Marco Cochrane

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Marco Cochrane
Marco Cochrane, an American sculptor of large-scale nude women executed in welded steel, discusses his art and process at his Treasure Island studio in 2011.
Marco Cochrane (2011)
Notable work
The Bliss Project (trilogy)

Marco Cochrane (born 1962) is an American sculptor born in Venice, Italy, best known for his large-scale steel sculptures of nude women.

Early and personal life[edit]

Cochrane was born in Venice to American artists and raised in Berkeley, California.[1] When he was seven years old, a friend, then aged nine, was abducted and raped; Cochrane recalls "[m]y mom told me about it in way too much gory detail. It really shocked me," adding he was also surprised when "nobody did anything — and nobody ever talked about it again" and wondered "if he had realized she was a person, he wouldn't have done it."[2]

Cochrane is self-taught in sculpture[3] and married to Julia Whitelaw.[2]

The Bliss Project[edit]

What I see missing in the world is an appreciation and respect for feminine energy and power that results when women are free and safe. It seems obvious to me that feminine energy is being suppressed and that this must change. If we are to find real, lasting solutions to the problems facing humanity, men and women must be able to work together as equals. Bliss Dance is intended to focus attention on this issue.

— Marco Cochrane, Feb 2016 press release announcing installation of Bliss Dance at The Park[4]

Bliss Dance, Truth is Beauty and R-Evolution collectively form The Bliss Project, a trilogy of steel sculptures. The model for each piece was the singer and dancer Deja Solis.[5] Cochrane met Solis in 2006 and asked her to model for a work in progress. During their fifth collaboration, Solis advanced the idea for the pose that would be sculpted as Bliss Dance.[2]

A three-stage process was used to create each final piece:

  1. Cochrane sculpts Solis in clay as she holds the pose, and then casts a 34-scale plaster model from the clay
  2. Cochrane sculpts an intermediate clay model enlarged by 3× over the plaster model using a pantograph
  3. Cochrane and volunteers weld a final steel model enlarged by 3× over the intermediate clay using a pantograph

The finished sculptures use steel rod and tubing connected by steel balls for the structure, finished with a stainless steel mesh skin lit by LEDs.[6]

The first piece, entitled Bliss Dance (2010), reaches 40 feet (12 m) in height and, after being introduced at Burning Man,[7][8] was given a location on San Francisco's Treasure Island,[9] where it remained until May 18, 2015.[10][11] Bliss Dance later moved permanently to The Park, an entertainment venue near T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, which opened on April 4, 2016. It weighs more than 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg).[12]

Truth is Beauty (2013) which rises to 55 feet (17 m) and weighs 13,000 pounds (5,900 kg), was first shown at Burning Man in 2013.[13][14] A smaller scale piece by Cochrane will be showcased at the Renwick Gallery. [15] It was a response to the rape and abduction of a childhood friend,[16] and moved to a permanent location at the San Leandro Tech Campus in the fall of 2016, where it is visible from the San Leandro BART station. The piece was chosen by developer Westlake Urban to fulfill the city's requirement to spend one percent of the project budget on art.[17][18]

R-Evolution (2015), the third and final sculpture in The Bliss Project series, debuted at Burning Man in 2015 and has not yet found a permanent home. In 2019, the Union Square Business Improvement District studied the possibility of bringing R-Evolution to Hallidie Plaza, the entrance to Powell Street.[19][20]


  1. ^ Bloom, Jonathan (18 August 2016). "Sculpture of nude woman raising eyebrows in San Leandro". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Cling, Carol (3 April 2016). "'Bliss Dance' artist Marco Cochrane reminds viewers to see humanity within". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  3. ^ Leach, Robin (12 September 2016). "Sculptor Marco Cochrane: Inspiration and message for sculpture Bliss Dance at The Park". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Artist Marco Cochrane's Iconic Bliss Dance Sculpture Finds New Home at The Park on Las Vegas Strip" (Press release). MGM Resorts. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  5. ^ Anderson, Mark C. (September 12, 2013). "Burning Man's most memorable art piece was hatched here; its mandate is relevant everywhere". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Bliss Project Team & Construction Method". Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  7. ^ Keppel, Josh (September 12, 2010). "Burning Man Metropolis: For the Ladies". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  8. ^ Mills, Elinor (September 15, 2010). "Oops! Facebook mistakenly censors Burning Man art". CNET. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  9. ^ Jensen, Monica (June 2011). "'Bliss' sculpture, a Burning Man icon, returns to Treasure Island birthplace". San Francisco Public Press. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  10. ^ Jonesq, Steven T. (May 27, 2011). "Bliss Dance grooves on Treasure Island". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  11. ^ Pershan, Caleb (7 May 2015). "40-Foot Burning Man Sculpture Getting Removed From Treasure Island". sfist. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  12. ^ Guerrero, Susana (March 6, 2016). "Burning Man statue graces the Las Vegas Strip". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  13. ^ Smith, Tamsin (September 9, 2013). "From Her to Eternity: A Playa Portrait". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  14. ^ London, Scott (May 2013). "Burning Man 2013: The Scene Pictures - Truth Is Beauty". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  15. ^ "Will the Spirit of Burning Man Art Survive in Museums?". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  16. ^ Whiting, Sam (15 October 2016). "Naked 'Truth' towers over East Bay campus". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  17. ^ Graff, Amy (22 July 2015). "Naked Burning Man sculpture sparks controversy in San Leandro". The Stew [blog]. SFGate. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  18. ^ Graff, Amy (16 August 2016). "Controversy around 55-foot-tall nude woman sculpture in San Leandro continues". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Hallidie Plaza". Union Square Foundation. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  20. ^ Union Square Business Improvement District Executive Committee Meeting (PDF) (Report). Union Square Business Improvement District. October 24, 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2020.

External links[edit]

Bliss Dance[edit]

Truth is Beauty[edit]