Alexander Stoddart: A Conversation in His Studio

Podcast 16th March 2021

  • A Stoddart Alexander Stoddart

Art is there as an analgesic measure to tranquilize you, not to simulate you…it’s a function, a means, that has come about to still our will to live. The artist is actually a purveyor of death.

Should art be beautiful? This forbidden question guides Stephen Blackwood's conversation with eminent sculptor and aesthetic luminary, Alexander Stoddart. Stoddart describes, in his usual incandescent fashion, his aesthetic awakening and his views on the failings of modernist and contemporary art. He also speaks about iconoclasm, about art’s battle with nature, and about the power of beauty to still the will. Finally, he offers parting advice for young artists and other seekers of meaning and beauty. The conversation took place in Stoddart's studio in Scotland.

Artists, Art, and Writings Mentioned in this Episode — The paintings of Eisenhower, Churchill, and Hitler; The Buddhas of Bamayan; Venus de Milo; Richard Wagner: Tristan and Isolde; Bust of Beatrice in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence; The Statue of Liberty; Mount Rushmore; Gutzon Borglum; Christ of the Andes; The Angel of the North; Jackson Pollock; Desiderio da Settignano; Michelangelo: Staircase in the Laurentian Medicean Library, Medici tombs, Medici Chapel; Michelangelo: The Slaves; Giambologna; Adolf von Hildebrand; Copenhagen, especially the work and museum of Bertel Thorvaldsen; Hermann Ernst Freund; Arthur Schopenhauer; Antonio Canova; Lorenzo Bartolini, Plaster Cast Gallery at the Accademia Gallery


  • 0:00​ – Introduction
  • 2:18 – Stoddart’s origins and his call to art
  • 6:09 – His view of modern aesthetics
  • 15:53 – The reasoning behind iconoclasm
  • 21:08 – Beauty; the war between art and nature
  • 29:57 – Modernist art, self-absorption
  • 36:02 – Advice for young artists seeking meaning and truth
  • 41:59 – General advice: sweep the floors in life
  • 45:26 – Examples for young artists
  • 51:55 – On preparing to answering one’s detractors

Portal Image Credit: © Tricia Malley Ross Gillespie,  broad daylight


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