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A Question of Genius


Thank you so much for the intelligent and insightful article about the remarkable artist, Richard Nickel, whom, I am sure most would agree is a true genius (“Children of Men,” Arts & Culture, Nov. 25). The photograph of his astonishingly skillful and emotionally charged sculpture of popsicle-stick-like figures left me breathless. I can only imagine the effect of seeing the work first-hand

Also, I am happy to see that Mike Dulin, the art critic and author of the article, has taken Lenin's sage advice, “First confuse the vocabulary,” by calling the work a sculpture even though no sculpting is involved. How can true artists express themselves if they must be constrained by the foolish insistence on accurate thinking, which requires words of precise meaning?

The most telling idea to be found in the article is how Mr. Nickel “works without focusing on superficial elements that might add nothing to the story except for ego, vanity, and distraction.” I could not agree more. We are all sick and tired of all that ego bound up in such sculptures as “David” by Michelangelo and all that distracting detail in such sculpted works as the bronze doors, the “Gates of Paradise,” in Florence, Italy, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, keeping most of us from feeling anything of importance from the pieces. The ancient Greek sculpture, “Victory of Samothrace,” at the Louvre in Paris also comes to mind with all that excessive sense of pride, vanity, and all that absurd heroic sense of life expresses. Give me the “beautiful bones of simplicity” found in Mr. Nickel's Popsicle sticklike figures any day for the true, deep meaning of the life of most of us.

“Lost Labor” is most certainly a modern-day masterpiece equal to any master work of sculpture from the great sculptors throughout the ages as Mike Dulin, the critic, seems to suggest when he writes, “the scenes portrayed offer a wonderful story if only in a glimpse.”

Parents whose sons and daughters are students of Mr. Nickel must feel very fortunate indeed.

Ronald E. Renmark

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