|The work of Ugo Mochi (1889-1977) vividly demonstrates that simple materials and traditional techniques can yield spectacular art. With paper and knife, Mochi created sculptural outlines that uniquely and remarkably depict the natural world.
The artist was born in Florence, Italy, and as a young boy liked to cut from paper the cart and carriage horses he saw on the city's streets. A horse he modeled in clay gained him admittance to the Academy of Fine Arts, at the age of 10. Later, a scholarship at the Art Academy took him to Berlin. While visiting that city's zoo, he met the sculptor August Gaul and soon, with Gaul's guidance, was modeling the animals there.
Mochi's boyhood past time of creating paper horses grew into a skilled artist's concentration in sculptural outline. To that ancient art form he brought a wildlife lover's eye, and a sculptor's preoccupation with shape and form. "The unchanging thing that makes the appearance of every animal different from every other is its shape," Mochi claimed. His keen observation of animal gesture lends a tense, nervous energy to some of his animal images, while other rest, browse or graze, flee or fight.
Black paper and a small lithographer's knife were Mochi's materials. Usually, but not always, he placed a rough pencil sketch over the black paper. Then, on the glass surface of his easel, Mochi deftly guided the sharp blade to create what he liked to call a graphic sculpture.
Seldom cut in profile, the animals are depicted at an angle, in three-quarter view, or even head on. In each striking design, accuracy of outline allows the viewer's eye to fill in detail so that the image appears to be three-dimensional.