The Incredible Automata Sculpture of Carlos Zapata

Posted in Automata, Characters, Metal, Wood on February 20th, 2011 by Alice – 7 Comments

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Torsos - by artist Carlos Zapata

Torsos - by artist Carlos Zapata

I first came across a video of one of Carlos Zapata’s automata last year and then again last week I saw another video of his. I have been amazed at the intricate workings of his delightful sculptures.

I was lost with pure delight on Carlos’s website, it is full of pictures of his work including the Elephant sculpture below. I  was completely drawn in by the stories being told and the colorful figures. This jolly  group is 28″ high, made of wood and metal and is owned by a private collector.

Elephant by artist Carlos Zapata

Elephant by artist Carlos Zapata

All of his work stands by itself a visual works of art, but nothing does his sculptures justice like seeing them in motion, it’s what make them so unique.

The layers of intricate mechanics is simply difficult to imagine figuring out.  Carlos is a self taught Automata artist and has his studio in Mabe, Cornwall. For the past 11 years he has been creating these fabulous kinetic or mechanical sculptures.

He often uses reclaimed wood and scraps or recycled metal in his work as he believes is contributes to the uniqueness of his piece, with a story behind the story.  And tell stories is one thing Carlos knows how to do.

The Automata Repairman by artist Carlos Zapata

The Automata Repairman by artist Carlos Zapata

In his own words, Carlos explains The Automata Repairman

“This man is cycling coming to repair your automata, he is getting old and he looks at the floor and then the horizon,.. but he keeps pedalling, he is carring his tools in his box. You can see all the tools that he is going to need.
Down inside the mechanisms you see this man flying and a fat cat watching him, while two hands are holding hammers moving in rhythmic way.
Down at the botton there is one collector looking at his automata and on the other side there is a dog that wonders what the fuss is about and turns its head to see you turning the handle. It’s 77 cm. High (30 Inches)”

His work has been exhibited in Museums around the world. Many of the ideas for his pieces have evolved and been taken from his own personal life experience. He often draws inspiration and is influenced by African, South American, Asian and British art.

Some of his work is very  large and contains full size figures with layers of activity below. This video Museo Parque De Las Ciencias G will give you a sense of the scale of his work.

I  can only  image how enjoyable it would be to have a piece of his wonderful sculpture to greet me each day. My favorite might very well be The Mask.

The Mask by artist Carlos Zapata

The Mask by artist Carlos Zapata

I’m happy to tell you that you can own your own coffee table book of Carlos’ work. He has self published an informative picture book that will give you a peek into his world.


Automata Carlos Zapata

Carlos often accepts commissions for his sculptures from both private and public collectors worldwide. But if you can’t wait that long, you can own one right away by visiting his website, Carlos Zapata Automata.

You can also spend hours watching his 48 videos on Youtube. While it’s not the same I’m sure, it’s the next best thing to seeing them in person.

He also has a new blog where hopefully we can get to know him even better.

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Donald Gialanella’s St. George and the Dragon Parallax Cross

Posted in Metal, mixed media, Videos on June 28th, 2009 by Alice – 2 Comments

Donald Gialanella work is in found in public places and private collection around the world. When I contacted him, he had just returned from Perth Australia. His design St. George and the Dragon Parallax Cross was named a finalist for the St. George’s Cathedral sculpture competition. Incredible, what a visually delightful paradox. We certainly wish him well in the competition.

St. George and the Dragon Parallax Cross

From his website I learned; Donald studied in New York City at The Cooper Union under Louise Bourgeois, Jim Dine, Vito Acconci and Hans Haacke. The school’s traditional apprenticeship programs exposed him to bronze casting, steel fabrication, painting, drawing and graphic design, while classes with conceptualists Vito Acconci and Hans Haacke introduced him to anti-academic and revolutionary aesthetics. After graduating in 1979 and being awarded the Elliot Lash Prize in recognition of his monumental wood and steel tripods exhibited in Cooper Park, Gialanella was asked by Bourgeois to work as her assistant.  Throughout the following year Gialanella worked directly with Louise, doing everything from assembling armatures for her sculptures to creating odd portals, which she was fond of scurrying through from room to room, that he punched through the walls of her Chelsea brownstone with a pickax.

(If you would  like to know more about Louise Bourgeois, you can certainly do an online search for Louise Bourgeois, but here is a link to get you started.)

Ankara Turkey In 1992 Gialanella ventured to Turkey and devoted two years teaching art at Bilkent University. One morning as he wandered through a rural part of the Old City in Istanbul, he was hypnotized by a clanking rhythm. “My ears led me to the coppersmiths who were creating intricate designs with the simplest of tools, as they have done for centuries.  This inspired me to start working on sculpture again, hammering and bending to shape the steel in an organic way. In this exotic and ancient culture I began to spiritually reconnect with myself and experienced an artistic re-birth. A year later I had my first major one-man show at Ars Gallery Ankara and gained the confidence to devote myself completely to achieving my personal artistic vision.”


I was struck by the diversity of materials in these two sculptures

Midden Woman

I enjoy his satire as shown in this smaller sculpture depicting the mortgage crisis.

American DreamerDon is well known for his animal of which he has done many. From life size horses to smaller figures of animal that you can see here on his website. The Horse is the first piece he created in his new studio in Taos New Mexico. It’s made of Heavey gauge cut and forged steel with an acid wash finish. 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and stands 5 feet 6 inches tall at the shoulder.


I love this rooster’s color .


Maybe my favorite work is Idea Man below. Although it certainly is a challenge to choose just one of Don’s pieces as favorite. There are so many to choose from that I have posted more here than I usually do.

Idea ManDon writes about Idea Man, “A completely three dimensional image, this fanciful steel sculpture is a logical progression of my Fragment Portraits. He rides a simple unicycle while supporting his enormous head appointed with Hermes-like wings that give flight to his formidable powers of creativity.”

His method for creating his Fragment Portraits is fascinating. He writes, “I draw the face directly onto a sheet of steel and cut it into fragments which define the facial features in a specifically descriptive way. Then I reassemble the “jigsaw puzzle” and weld it together from the back to reunite the portrait. The color and texture is done with various chemical patinas, paint, metalic powders, and a grinder.”

To really understand his process watch the video below.

I’m going to leave you with an interesting and delightful adventure into the world we are living in. Don was featured in several Magazines both in print and online. The online Magazines are the ones that are so interesting and interactive. Not only will you learn more about Donald Gialanella work, but somehow, with both photos and video and because it is so full of life, it makes the reader/viewer more engaged.

The first is CTN Green Maganzine, his article and videos are on pages 20 and 21. The video is the same as the one above, but the presentation is really interesting.  Please take a minute, you’ll truly enjoy it. After you spend the time with Don on these pages, you might want to look at the rest of the magazine, interesting.

The second magazine with an interview with Don is Deviance from deviantART. You can download the issue to your computer. It’s well worth it.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Don Gialanella and his work. There is so much more for you to explore on his site, Donald Gialanella – Metal Sculpture.

Please take a minute to add a comment, let me know what you think, I really would like to hear from each of you.

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