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Art Sculpture Analysis Paper

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Richard Deacon ‘If the Shoe Fits’ – Analysis

The sculpture, If the Shoe fits, by artist Richard Deacon is interpreted as a very intellectual abstract work of art by many. The piece is made completely of steel; that was cut, shaped and attached with rivets and screws. The sculpture was created in 1981, in London, UK. It still remains in London, located at the Tate Gallery. If the Shoe fits was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’.

Stated in a summary by the Tate Gallery, “Richard Deacon was interested in the way, in which Rilke used ordinary language to create profoundly metaphorical poetry.

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” This gave Deacon the inspiration to use “metaphorical poetry” in his art work. The large metal sculpture is approximately 1600 x 3250 x 1840mm in size. Quite large enough for viewers to walk around and analyze it from all angles and sides. One end of the sculpture curves up, with a flat side underneath. The opposite end is stable on the floor, going upward supporting a flat circular area.

In the middle of that area is a hole, which can be described as a tunnel.

Between the two ends, there is a loop that’s connected to both sides. The perimeter of the entire piece is a ruffle like surface. The sculpture is silver, with some dual and shiny areas. If you look close enough at a picture of the piece you can see circles or little dots that may be the screws. The overall shape of the sculpture is a round, wide, and curvy structure. The art work utilizes several different elements that contribute to the overall impact of the sculpture. The steel is manipulated in many ways to changes the color, light, texture, plane, volume and space.

Light and color are being utilized at the same time. The steel in this piece shows off at least four different shades or colors. The steel being manipulated in a ruffle texture on the outer layers of the region creates affect for it to be reflected by light. This makes the silver look dual in some areas and shiny in others. The hole and the negative space under the curved edge, both create a dark shadow that is also manipulated by light. There may be at least four textures that I can recognize immediately. Which are the ruffle areas on the outer layer and the smooth surface on the circular area of the form.

The ruffle areas are rough and edgy. Opposite to that, the smooth sides look soft. All over the sculpture are little dots or circles. The small circles add to the unity of the piece. Although the ruffle and smooth areas are a major difference in texture, the dots and the steel itself makes the sculpture one whole piece. Plane is well executed in the work; it has length, width and minimal thickness. Both sides are different when compared by size and shape, but the unity in textures, colors and light contributes to the plane making it one. Volume is also well thought out in this structure.

The hole in the circle can be thought of as a focal point. This is the only enclosed place in the piece, which contributes to the variety and utilizes volume well. Space is utilized all over If the Shoe Fits. The loop has a great deal of negative space and can act as a focal point. The curve created a negative space at the bottom, that makes you want to crawl under it and go through the tunnel, also affecting volume. The sculpture itself creates an idea of going in it and moving around. ‘If the Shoe Fits’, stated in an article is a “metaphorical reflection of modern slavery to fashion.

Meaning we walk for miles and miles in our own shoes, but never think about how it would feel to walk in the shoes of others. By using steel for the shoe, Deacon reflects the pain people face in their lives. Seeing that the shoe is made of metal it would be uncomfortable and heavy to wear the shoe. From first glance, the form does not look like a shoe. It is created to be malfunctioned, for the allusion of the shoe being impossible to fit or wear. We all can not wear each other’s shoe (live each other’s lives), because it is ours to wear (our life to live).

The upward curve of the piece that defies gravity can resemble the back of a women’s high heel; and the loop can represent the lace of a tennis shoe. The tunnel like space in the circle can be compared to where your foot goes to put on the shoe. From the first look I took at the sculpture, I was impressed. I thought, “Wow, cool, creative, and different. ” Do I know what the piece means or stands for? After finding out the name of the piece and doing the back ground research, I started to understand, interpret and analyze the sculpture differently. I also understood what Richard Deacon is trying to say or want the viewers to interpret.

If the shoe fits is the perfect name for this sculpture because it looks so dysfunctional and twisted to the point where you ask yourself; who could really fit this shoe? I think the smooth and rough textures represent the hard times in life and the easy/happy times that everyone face. We all face different situations in our busy/dysfunctional lives, but they are ours to live and not fit for anyone else. We determine ‘ if the shoe fits’ or not.


  1. http://www. tate. org. uk/art/artworks/deacon-if-the-shoe-fits-t07321
  2. http://hexmyex. blogspot. com/2007/09/good-morning-to-you. html

Cite this Art Sculpture Analysis Paper

Art Sculpture Analysis Paper. (2016, Oct 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/art-sculpture-analysis-paper/

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