Architectural Digest
Magnificent Obsession Image Credit: Architectural Digest
Magnificent Obsession Image Credit: Architectural Digest

Magnificent Obsession

In November 2000, sculptor Rachel Feinstein began a journey that changed her art—and her life.

Shax Riegler

Like a character in a fairy tale, during a 2000 trip artist Rachel Feinstein fell under the spell of Bavaria’s picturesque towns, sublime landscapes, fantastical castles, and rococo churches. Further enchantment ensued in Munich at Nymphenburg, the legendary porcelain factory on the grounds of the royal family’s once-upon-a-time summer palace. There she succumbed to her own maladie de porcelaine, the fabled “porcelain sickness” that possessed so many aesthetes in the 18th century.

Feinstein, whose work has included architectural stage flats, period room–inspired installations, and immersive environments, found herself drawn to the exuberant figurines modeled by Franz Anton Bustelli in the 1750s. But rather than the graceful, colorful characters themselves, the swelling, curvaceous pedestals upon which they stood were what moved her.

“What’s so fabulous is how one curve gives into another,” notes Feinstein, who envisioned replicating Bustelli’s organic forms at life size. “They practically killed me, because every time I would get something perfect from one side, I’d go to the other side and find it didn’t look right and have to fix the whole thing. I became obsessed with getting it perfect.”

So much so that she had her first attempts—fabricated in foam for a 2014 fashion portfolio in Garage, the biannual

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