Enfilade

Study Day: Sculpture for the Academy

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on February 5, 2012

As noted at H-ArtHist:

Morceau de reception, Dono, and Diploma Piece
Histories of a Self-reflective Genre of Sculpture
Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, 18 May 2012

Organized by Tomas Macsotay and Johannes Myssok

Étienne-Maurice Falconet, "Milo of Croton," marble, 1754 (Paris: Louvre)

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the significance of a practice of sculpture was to a great extent determined by the incorporation of individual sculptors into royal academies and city guilds, powerful institutions of Ancien Régime society fueled by conflicting socio-economic interests, ethic convictions and aesthetic creeds. For sculptors, the centerpiece of such acts of consecration consisted in marble carvings executed in reduced scale and rendering noble subjects that ranged from the Saints to Ovid and Roman History. As guilds lost ground and influence to academies, the figures became an indispensable means of forging a reputation: they grew increasingly complex and in a few cases, as with Falconet’s Milo, Sergel’s Othryadès and Banks’ Falling Titan, strike the modern viewer as being strangely at odds with stylistic mainstreams of baroque and neo-classicism. What resulted is one of the first forms of sculpture produced independently from overt purposes of noble representation or religious experience, and therefore capable of being called ‘autonomous’. Often lodged within or close to the spaces where academy members convened and held seminars, academic marbles come closest to representing a programmatic statement on the nature of sculpture at the dawn of modernity.

The study day will examine the converging histories of the dono, the morceau de réception and the diploma piece. An international array of scholars will venture into the difficult task of identifying what (if anything) these pieces purport to teach the viewer about the art of sculpture. What are the origins of its typical conventions — among the
private genres of the reproductive bronze, the ivory and the ornamental relief, or among the public sculpture on permanent display in churches, townhouses and squares — and what support is provided modern scholars by academic theoretical discourses? The insistent three-dimensionality of the French morceau de réception seems particularly predictive of a now familiar paradigm of the medium, with its understanding that sculptural objects display non-pictorial properties that fuel a relationship with the beholder through modalities of hard, handled
substance, through the play of spatial presence and multiple viewpoints, and through quasi-architectural framing elements and supports such as pedestals and niches. But does this Ancien Régime embodiment of sculpture really anticipate a modern sensibility to sculptural form?

Admission to the study day is free. Registration is not required.

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P R O G R A M M E

9:00 Reception and coffee

9:25 Johannes Myssok, Welcome and introduction

SESSION 1: Between the Individual and the Institutional, chaired by Johannes Myssok
9:40 Susanne Adina Meyer (Rome): “Die Akademie in der ‘Akademie der Welt’: Wettbewerbe und bildhauerische Aufnahmestücke der Accademia di San Luca in Rom im 18. Jh.”
10:10 Marjorie Trusted (London), “The Beginnings of the Royal Academy in London: Diploma Pieces in the Eighteenth Century”

10:40 Discussion and coffee Break

SESSION 2: Falconet: Exception or Rule?, chaired by Guido Reuter
11:10 Kristina Dolata (Berlin): “Naturstudium und ‘horreur’. Falconets Milon von Kroton
11:40 Tomas Macsotay (Barcelona), “The Free-standing Morceau de Réception and the Community of Experiment: Thoughts on De Piles and Falconet”

12:10 Discussion

12:30 Lunch

SESSION 3: Sculpture about Sculpture: An Academic Aesthetics, chaired by Tomas Macsotay
14:00 Ursula Ströbele (Berlin): “Vom bas-relief zum ronde-bosse. Narration und Zeitlichkeit bei den Bildhaueraufnahmestücken der königlichen Akademie in Paris”
14:30 Martin Myrone (London), “Extravagance, Excess, Expertise: Thomas Banks’s Falling Titan

15:00 Discussion and break

15:40 Additional contribution by Magnus Olausson and/or respondent (to be confirmed); final discussion

Emma Barker on the Greuze Girl in ‘Representations’

Posted in journal articles by Editor on February 5, 2012

Emma Barker, “Reading the Greuze Girl: The Daughter’s Seduction,” Representations 117 (2012): 86-119.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, "Girl with a Dead Canary," 1765 (Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland)

Abstract: This essay challenges the generally accepted interpretation of Greuze’s Girl Weeping over a Dead Bird (1765) as an allegory of lost virginity by considering the painting in relation to eighteenth-century representations of the young girl in a range of discourses, including aesthetic theory, sentimental fiction and medical literature. Its central contention is that the implied spectator to whom the painting is addressed is not a lover as such, but a quasi-paternal figure, who disavows his own desire for the girl whilst nevertheless enjoying an eroticized intimacy with her. In thereby raising the specter of incest even as it represses it, Weeping Girl exemplifies deep-seated tensions within later eighteenth-century French culture.