Viral YouTuber Transforms into a Successful Contemporary Sculptor

Bronze Sculpture by Federico Clapis

“Crypto Connection,” bronze, 2018.

Italian sculptor Federico Clapis had a unique method for entering the contemporary art world. For years prior to working as a full-time artist, he was a content creator shooting viral videos on YouTube. Then, in 2015, he stepped away from his role as an influencer and began using his channels as a way to communicate his real passion—sculpture. It should also come as no surprise that technology plays a central role in his art.

At first glance, his resin and bronze sculptures have a deceptively classical feel. But when one looks closer, these depictions of maternity give way to much more than what meets the eye. In The Connection, we see the inside of a woman's womb filled with her growing child; however, this “connection” isn't quite what one may think. While mother and child are physically connected, we see the fetus immersed in a smartphone, already one step ahead in connecting with the outside world.

Another sculpture depicts a drone taking the place of a stork, ready to drop a baby at its new home. In Addolorato Concezione, which translates to “Painful Conception,” a woman wears a pair of virtual reality glasses while cradling a baby that isn't actually in her arms. This absence of a child creates a powerful commentary on longing for a family. The injection of virtual reality can be viewed as a metaphor for the lengths people will go to make that dream a reality.

Given Clapis' background in internet culture, it's only natural that pieces of technology leak into his artwork. For him, tech and social media are such integral parts of his generation that it's impossible for him to judge it objectively. Instead, it becomes a vehicle for him to explore universal themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships. And, in the end, it's also a way for Clapis to connect with his followers.

“What I try to do every day is to invite people to comment on my work,” Clapis tells My Modern Met. “Not because I’m trying to emulate my old lifestyle as a YouTuber, but because every artwork can be an instrument for self-analysis. And every comment—consciously or unconsciously—is an act of self-exploration in its romance or suffering.”

Sculptor Federico Clapis left a successful path as a YouTuber behind to pursue a career as a full-time artist.

Federico Clapis Art About Technology

“The Connection,” resin, 2017.

Federico Clapis Sculpture

“The Connection,” detail.

His work comments on technology as a way to explore timeless, universal human emotions.

Federico Clapis Art About Technology

“Babydrone,” resin, 2018.

Contemporary Sculpture by Federico Clapis

“Babydrone,” detail.

Contemporary Sculpture by Federico Clapis

“Addolorata Concezione,” resin, 2018.

Federico Clapis: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Federico Clapis.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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