Willard Wigan is a well-known artist, honoured by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 as a “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” for his services to art. Wigan’s work is really quite particular. He is a micro-sculptor. His pieces are so small that they fit in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin. To be able to sculpt these pieces of microscopic art, which are less than 1/13 the diameter of a grain of rice, he works with a scalpel and a microscope, while using the legs of a fly as a brush. He also uses such bizarre materials as spider web mixed with gold or Kevlar.
This extreme artistic discipline also demands great physical discipline. To create his micro sculptures, Willard enters into a meditative state in which he controls his breathing and is thus able to sculpt between two heart beats. The amazing result cannot be appreciated with the naked eye. It is only under a microscope that we discover a group of camels walking through the eye of a needle, the skyline of Manhattan, or reproductions of Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, or even a full-length portrait of Prince Charles or Mike Tyson...
When Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey learned about Willard Wigan five years ago, they immediately thought that a meeting with this sculptor creating microscopic art and their own microscopic mechanics might lead to creating something together, something in which art and timekeeping would find common ground, a sort of co-creation in other words. The word “co-creation” is quite apt since the complex insertion of a micro sculpture into a timepiece requires architectural and technical modifications necessitating research and innovation. The result, which has the name Art Piece 1, can be seen at the SIHH in January 2013. It has already been presented, however, in various stages of completion at the International Contemporary Art Fair in Paris, the famous FIAC, and at the Contemporary Art Fair in Shanghai. What we will find is a painted micro mask, embedded inside the crown and visible thanks to an optical system.
Shanghai is where Greubel Forsey recently inaugurated a new type of store, the Time Art GalleryGF, located at the prestigious Bund 18. As its name indicates, this gallery aims to create bridges between art and watchmaking. In addition to the collection of Greubel Forsey timepieces, other pieces by exceptional watchmakers such as Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter can be seen, both of whom exemplify in various ways the art of timekeeping, whether in terms of spectacular finishing or amazing architecture. This new type of gallery also allows Greubel Forsey to exhibit contemporary artists and, in this case, their first co-creation with Willard Wigan, a clear example of how art and watchmaking can work perfectly together.
Source: Europa Star December - January 2012-13 Magazine Issue
The Arts & Watches section comprises the following articles:
- Introduction: Is watchmaking an art?
- The cultural track: a discussion with Franco Cologni
- Rolex - handing down talent and experience
- Girard-Perregaux: paying tribute to Le Corbusier
- Breguet’s cultural patronage: miraculous manna
- Vacheron Constantin: Creating a dialogue between art and artisanal
- Hermès - imaginary time
- MB&F – “In watchmaking, there are not enough egoists”
- Cinema Paradiso: watches and cinema