(The text asks "How on earth was this done
with nothing but a hammer and chisel?")
The tweet now has nearly 6 million views at the time of writing. I left a bit of snarky comment, pointing out prosaically that it's done by practice. It really is just practice, it's not magic. I shouldn't be so negative, but this constant online awe for art and architecture from the ancient, medieval and renaissance world is starting to get annoying. I get (and agree with) the underlying sentiment. Yes, modern buildings do look ugly. Buildings from centuries ago (even as recent as the 1800s and early 1900s) put them to shame, quite drastically. So it does give the stark impression that we're living in backwards times.
However, the lament is now just turning into stupidity. Ironically confirming the sense of downfall.
The above sculpture is good. The technique creating the appearance of gauze is impressive. But you shouldn't be looking at it like it's a UFO - something beyond your comprehension or your potential to replicate, by beings on a different cloud.
Again, it's just the product of practice. The gauze depicted on the sculpture isn't actually transparent. It's just the contours of the body and the fabric that give the impression of transparency. It's masterfully done, but it shouldn't leave you dumbfounded. This is the thing though, and what's really kind of backwards. It's that people are viewing these artworks like an impressive magic trick, rather than as something interesting, beautiful or pleasing in some way.
Personally, I don't actually like these sculptures too much. They're not really my cup of tea. Something like Donatello's David would be more beautiful to me. That's just my personal taste of course, and I don't really have a great interest in sculpture either way to be honest, but the point is art should be about what you like.
It's similar to seeing a very photorealistic painting and being like, "Wow, it looks just like a photograph." Like you're impressed by the technique and the wow factor of "How did they do that!". Rather than just liking the art itself, because you like it. As if a painting is better than the Mona Lisa by virtue of the fact that it's more realistic looking.
If you genuinely like the above sculpture then great, but if you're sharing it with the, "..But how did they do this?!" line, then you're just relegating yourself to a lower tier of civilisation by default. We're getting into "How did they build the pyramids?" territory. Where people are impressed by the sheer bigness. If you point out that there are smaller pyramids dotted about Egypt, and that the culture that built them obviously just scaled things up, you get, "..But look how big the pyramid of Giza is!". Like once you get to a certain bigness you need aliens or some lost technology.
I don't want to diss the pyramids - like the transparent sculpture, they're impressive - but if you need aliens, or some other higher civilisation narrative, to spice up the awe and interest factor then the artistry alone obviously isn't impressing you as much as you think or say it is.