Essay – Sculpture

This part of a series I am working of artists that have made more of a contribution to society in addition to their music.

“A Thousand Beautiful Things (Portrait of Annie Lennox)” by Tony Natsoulas

Tony Natsoulas’s exuberant ceramic sculpture of Annie Lennox titled 1000 Beautiful Things is an Ode to Rebirth, reminding the viewer of the reasons why Lennox still believes that those things do exist.  Holding an open circle, she looks at life as a full glass of possibilities and experience.  At the same time, the viewer sees hints of the 1000 things in niches set into her hoop dress.  While those 1000 things are what Natsoulas views as important in Annie’s life, the circle is important to the lives of women globally because it represents the organization that Lennox founded to bring about lasting change in the lives of women to make their lives as good as the lives of men.

The fiery red of her larger-than-life hair, topped by a Stetson hat typically worn by men, a reference to her refusal to submit to the male gaze through her choice of costume and hairstyle, contrasts with the green of her hoop dress and adds to the drama.  The use of circles, the open circle through which the figure gazes, the circle of her dress and the one created by her six feet all carry the theme of the fullness of life. As Lennox sings” I never want to close my eyes again; never close my eyes…” Her activism permeates her music.

Natsoulas has created a body of strong large scale ceramic sculptures of entertainers and inventors in a playfully humorous style, each one unique and extraordinary. They have met with huge success, the latest being the addition of his Sister Rosetta Tharpe to the SF MOMA collection.  The artist was also named one of the top 100 craft artists in the U.S. in 2004. There is nothing understated about Natsoulas’ sculptures with every element taken to the limit to gain the viewers attention, and 1000 Beautiful things is no exception.

— Kristin Lindseth, 2023