There are those who think bigger is better. Neale Albert is a dedicated collector who obviously believes smaller can have its own special fascination. The evidence is exquisitely displayed in the current exhibition “XS Populi: The Neale M. Albert Collection of Miniature Figure Sculptures” at the Visionaire Gallery, 11 Mercer Street (just north of Canal Street) in New York City.
Well lit from below to give a feeling of theatrical footlights, the amazing collection of tiny but meticulously sculpted and impressively clothed figures are at once eye-catching as a group, but also demanding close-up study for their amazing artistry and resemblances to many major historical figures. These are not dolls. Each figure is carefully and creatively sculpted as commissioned by Albert.
A prominent attorney, Albert has long had a hobby of collecting miniatures. He has an impressive collection of mini furniture arranged realistically in specially designed little rooms. He has a compelling collection of miniature books. This latest exhibit contains tiny figures resembling such notables as King Louis XIV of France; Marie Antoinette; Peter Paul Rubens; Anne Boleyn; Lady Jane Grey; Henry VIII; Queen Elizabeth I; William Shakespeare; Charles Dickens; Dylan Thomas; Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, and even movie icon Ava Gardner. Among figures representing the performing arts are conceptions of Carmen, The Mikado and Dorian Gray.
There is a sense of humor apparent in the way figures are sometimes paired or revealingly dressed. And the exhibit even has amusing sculptures of Albert and his wife Margaret. In addition to the 45 annotated personage figures, there are more suggesting time periods or particular pleasures, such as a jovial figure holding wines.
The largest on display is an elaborate sculpture of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, which was created by Galia Bazylko McLaughlin, one of the artists commissioned by Albert. Others who sculpted the figures in the collection include Jill Bennett, Jamie Carrington, Cassandra Hipwell and Janet Middlebrook.
Especially intriguing is the loving care that went into the clothing that reflects the periods represented and to appropriately suggest the characters. The unusual exhibit opened on March 18, 2010 and continues through April 26, 2010. Visionaire Gallery phone: 212-274-8959.