Symbiosis of art — a sculptor’s stereo photos

written for the stereosite by Roberto Manzano, Spain

The rea­son for this arti­cle is to attempt to explain the rela­tion­ship between my pro­fes­sion as a sculp­tor and the stereo­scop­ic image.

Unlike paint­ing, in sculp­ture, the per­cep­tion of spa­tial depth may be the most impor­tant thing to con­sid­er. The rela­tion­ship of each of the ele­ments dis­trib­uted in the space is the real chal­lenge to take into account in cre­at­ing sculp­ture. In the vast major­i­ty of cas­es, col­or is dis­pensed with to focus atten­tion on three-dimen­sion­al shapes. In a tra­di­tion­al two-dimen­sion­al pho­to­graph of a sculp­ture that per­cep­tion of depth is lost, and there­fore two-dimen­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phy is a very inef­fec­tive means to rep­re­sent the spa­tial aware­ness of a sculpture.

When one day I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn about the stereo­scop­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of an image, I under­stood the true mean­ing of pho­tog­ra­phy and the mag­ic it can bring to any type of image. Since then, ether­ic pho­tog­ra­phy has been an impor­tant tool, if not the most impor­tant, to cap­ture, copy and rep­re­sent every­thing I see and believe, not only in the world of sculp­ture, but in all aspects of life. I also want to relate my pho­tographs to the stereo­scop­ic daguerreo­types of the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry as a trib­ute and reminder of a tech­nique that despite being more than 150 years old, is unequiv­o­cal­ly more mod­ern in con­cept than the stan­dards we use today.

Stereo daguerreo­type La Danaide by Lemaire, France 1850’s, with kind per­mis­sion of Jim Hugh­es (

Female sitting nude

This slight­ly larg­er than life size sculp­ture rep­re­sents a por­trait of a woman. A trib­ute to a per­son who loves him­self. The pose is ide­al­ized, while the face responds to real­i­ty. In this piece, the posi­tion does not por­tray very exhi­bi­tion­ist spir­it,  but is rather relaxed and nat­ur­al, with­out look­ing for any­thing expres­sive beyond the sim­ple fact of being aware of being naked. The posi­tion of the hands and the treat­ment of the hair is what I have enjoyed the most about the sculpture.

I am still work­ing on fin­ish­ing this sculp­ture  in my workshop.

In some images I want to show visu­al­ly where the sculp­ture is locat­ed inside the mar­ble block before start­ing to carve it. To do this, I have uti­lized one of the pos­si­bil­i­ties that pho­tog­ra­phy offers, which is pho­togram­me­try. It is noth­ing more than the abil­i­ty of stere­oscopy to under­stand depth, guid­ed by a com­put­er pro­gram. This allows me to get a polyg­o­nal mod­el of the mar­ble block fresh from the quar­ry. Once dig­i­tized, I manip­u­late it in a three-dimen­sion­al envi­ron­ment, tak­ing into account the scale, using the com­put­er. Here I can com­bine it with the dig­i­tized mod­el of the sculp­ture, to place the com­plet­ed sculp­ture exact­ly where it suits me best with­in the block of mar­ble. It is inter­est­ing to view the pos­si­ble results in stereo­scop­ic images, play­ing with trans­paren­cies and oth­er ele­ments to under­stand the three-dimen­sion­al envi­ron­ment in which the sculp­ture is locat­ed with­in the block of marble.

Extremófilo (Extremophile)

Extemó­fi­lo is a 60 cm tall bronze sculp­ture. It is found in a pri­vate collection.

It rep­re­sents a girl in an unnat­ur­al, pure­ly exhi­bi­tion­ist posi­tion, intend­ed only to attract atten­tion. The acces­sories are also absurd, only jus­ti­fied by the clear inten­tion of enhanc­ing the fig­ure of the body on display.

The pur­pose is not to crit­i­cize the absur­di­ty of the girl’s inten­tion with her pos­ture,  but rather, to show one more facet of the human being that caus­es me to pigeon­hole her as a being with extremophilic capacities.


White Car­rara mar­ble sculp­ture of a young woman lying on her back. It is rep­re­sent­ed in life size.

It began as a com­mis­sion to make a stand for a table. The only con­di­tion was that the main motive had to be a female fig­ure. The first sketch­es result­ed in this posi­tion and it was ruled out that it should serve as a sup­port for a table. The pos­ture made sense on its own.

Bal­ance rep­re­sents an ide­al state between the mind and the body, a kind of nat­ur­al con­nec­tion that thoughts trans­fer to the body; and the mind, in turn,  receives the result of the stim­uli from the body.

In this piece, I felt very com­fort­able with the type of mar­ble, since it offered me the pos­si­bil­i­ty of rep­re­sent­ing the anatom­i­cal details that I con­sid­ered very nec­es­sary to give real­ism to the human fig­ure. I also want­ed the mate­r­i­al from which it is made to be evi­dent and also to show con­trast between the soft leather and the raw stone.

Monument to the Fisherman

The Mon­u­ment to the Fish­er­man is a 250cm high mar­ble sculp­ture. It is locat­ed in Car­bon­eras, a town on the coast of Almería in Spain. It rep­re­sents a fish­er­man who has just caught a sword­fish. He is lean­ing on a fish­ing net and gaz­ing out at the sea, aware that the  bat­tle he has just fought has end­ed in the same dif­fi­cult sce­nario which he faces each day.

Sword­fish is one of the typ­i­cal prod­ucts of the fish­ing of this town.

Goddess of Fishing

This sculp­ture is part of the sculp­tur­al group that forms the cov­er of the hotel “Mar­avil­la Palace” in Estepona (Mala­ga).

The group is made up of two god­dess­es, fish­ing and agri­cul­ture, and a cen­tral shield with the hotel’s logo. The fig­ures are life-sized,  sculpt­ed in cream-col­ored lime­stone, which is the same stone used in the build­ing itself.

I am cur­rent­ly work­ing in the final phase of com­pet­ing these sculptures.

I thought  it would be inter­est­ing to show pho­tos of the work in process, since it is the least known aspect of stone sculptures.

The God­dess of Fish­ing has as rep­re­sen­ta­tive attrib­ut­es, an anchor, a head­dress with typ­i­cal sailors braids and a squid that seems to attend to the ges­tures that she makes with her hands. Her posi­tion is very seden­tary, look­ing down to greet  peo­ple as they approach the front door of the hotel.

The Game

This sculp­ture is two meters high. It is carved from a sin­gle block of mar­ble. The scene rep­re­sents a girl and a boy play­ing. The inten­tion is to rep­re­sent a pow­er com­pe­ti­tion, in which each play­er uses dif­fer­ent strate­gies  to achieve their goal.

The child  below, plays with a doll that is a sol­dier, rep­re­sent­ing the pow­er of force, and a chest that rep­re­sents the pow­er of mon­ey. He pro­tects it under his knee. The girl is giv­en a doll.

The game con­sists of the girl try­ing to achieve  the pow­er that the boy has. To accom­plish this, the girl is snatch­ing one of the keys that the boy has in his pos­ses­sion, tak­ing advan­tage of the fact that he is dis­tract­ed try­ing to recov­er his doll. The child does not use a thought­ful strat­e­gy, he only becomes enraged and tries to achieve his goal by force. The girl is inter­est­ed in eco­nom­ic pow­er, so she focus­es on get­ting one of the two keys that open the chest that the boy con­trols. She has reflect­ed on her strat­e­gy, feels con­fi­dent with her plan and is more ele­gant as she can envi­sion how her plan begins to succeed.

In short, the boy, con­fi­dent in his strength, believes that he can remain dom­i­nant with­out issue, while the girl has had to draw up a plan, since she could not best the boy using her weapons.

This sculp­ture was one of the first works that I cre­at­ed when I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to buy a block of mar­ble twen­ty years ago. I still have it in my work­shop. For me it was a com­pli­cat­ed tech­ni­cal chal­lenge, a test to demon­strate to myself how far I could go when tran­si­tion­ing the mod­el of a sculp­ture with com­plex shapes to a block of mar­ble with­out mak­ing irrepara­ble  mistakes.

Roberto Manzano (Almería, Spain)

My career began in Madrid, with a high lev­el of tech­ni­cal train­ing applied to sculp­ture. My first expe­ri­ences were pre­sent­ed in work­shops of stone repro­duc­tions and carv­ings in expand­ed poly­styrene. A pub­lic com­pe­ti­tion offered me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate my first work in bronze on Pal­ma Street in Madrid. I moved to Almería In search of mar­ble and there I have devel­oped most of my work. I have made numer­ous mon­u­men­tal sculp­tures for var­i­ous towns in Almería and in oth­er Andalu­sian provinces. I have also cre­at­ed sculp­tures for indi­vid­ual archi­tec­tur­al projects, and at the same time I have been devel­op­ing more per­son­al pieces.
My large for­mat work can be found in dif­fer­ent coun­tries through­out Europe, Asia and Amer­i­ca where I have received sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al awards and recog­ni­tions. This has giv­en me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to share expe­ri­ences with sculp­tors from all over the world.
Cur­rent­ly, I incor­po­rate many dig­i­tal tools into the cre­ative and tech­ni­cal process. These include: design and mod­el­ing com­put­er pro­grams, numer­i­cal con­trol repro­duc­tion meth­ods applied to sculp­ture, as well as pho­to­graph­ic tech­niques to visu­al­ize shapes in stereo­scop­ic 3D and dig­i­ti­za­tion of shapes using pho­togram­me­try.
I con­sid­er stere­oscopy a crit­i­cal tool in all aspects of sculp­ture. Since I first encoun­tered it six years ago, my inter­est in this field has grown so that I con­sid­er it near­ly my most ver­sa­tile tool. It allows me to cap­ture and rep­re­sent the three dimen­sion­al real­i­ty in which I live. The use of stere­oscopy is not just a visu­al­iza­tion tool, it also allows me to take molds of the forms rep­re­sent­ed in stereo­scop­ic images.

Insta­gram-pro­file: 3d.manzanorober