Watch out Damien Hirst. If Philippe Faraut has his way, classicists will overthrow your “spot” abstractions, formaldehyde tiger sharks and live maggots. Instead of slapping down silly money for diamond-studded skulls, art enthusiasts will rediscover a passion for traditional portraits. “There’s a renewed interest,” says Faraunt. “Artists are returning to the study of the human form. I have observed in the last 10 years that more classical education is offered in art schools. The opening of the Grand Central Academy in New York City and the Art Renal Center are examples of the industry recognizing the renewal of interest in the human figure in particular.” And this movement, he believes, has the potential to “bring back to our society an appreciation for traditional beauty—classical styles as opposed to abstract or primarily conceptual modern art.”
A student of facial anatomy for 20 years, Faraut is doing his part to rally this interest with teaching seminars, a video series on sculpting techniques, books and specialty materials. Everyone from theater arts and filmmakers to forensic scientists are customers of his three-dimensional masks. As he explains, “to be a successful forensic reconstruction sculptor, understanding the mechanical method of reconstruction is not enough. A solid foundation in anatomy, age and gender specificities is necessary. There are parts of the face, such as the eyes and the mouth, that are not resolved by the use of tissue depth markers and bone analysis; only experience can guide the artist depending on the gender, age, ethnicity and the body weight.”
Faraut’s fascination with faces started early. As a child in Annecy, France he started carving women’s faces in wood. He went on to carve French fine furniture and traveled extensively. Trips to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean actually continue to influence the range of ethnicity of the faces that he models. But it wasn’t until he settled in America that he developed an interest in modeling the head in clay. During the past 13 years, his sculptures have been exhibited in numerous galleries and national competitions including several of the National Sculpture Society's Annual Exhibitions shown in New York City and Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, as well as the American Portrait Society's Annual Exhibit in New York City and the Art Renewal Center's Annual Competition.