Call for Papers | The Sculpture of the Écorché

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 10, 2014

The Sculpture of the Écorché
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 7 June 2014

Proposals due by 17 February 2014

This one-day conference takes the écorché as its subject, reconsidering the many ways in which it has been understood in relation to sculpture from the sixteenth century to the present day. We are interested in how the écorché has been variously seen and employed:
•    as a teaching tool and as a model for the education of sculptors
•    as a scientific, three-dimensional demonstration model
•    in relation to the idealised forms of classical sculpture
•    as sculpture in its own right, produced, reproduced and circulated in different forms
•    as sculptural process and in relation to the figurative sculptural imagination

The écorché has frequently operated across disciplinary boundaries and registers of respectability. Makers of wax écorchés in the eighteenth century, such as the Florentine Clemente Susini (1754–1814), were highly acclaimed during their lifetimes, with their work sought by prestigious collectors. For instance in 1781 the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II commissioned Susini to make a collection for the Museum of the Medical University of Vienna. From 1799 Susini was engaged as a professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, demonstrating the regard in which his work was held for the education of artists.

By the nineteenth century, however, wax came to be seen as a merely preparatory or even a disreputable medium for sculpture, with its capacity for forensic detail and mimetic reproduction of bone, muscle and skin operating against the prevailing neoclassical tendency towards ideal form. As a result of this change in taste, the écorché in plaster of Paris, with both plain and coloured surfaces, became the primary teaching object for anatomical studies in European Academies and Schools of Art.

Papers are invited which draw out the relationships between sculpture and the écorché, looking at objects and makers from the sixteenth century onwards. Please send a 250-word abstract and a short CV to Dr Rebecca Wade (rebecca.wade@henry-moore.org) by Monday 17 February 2014.

This conference coincides with the Artistic Practice and the Medical Museum conference at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London on 6 June 2014.

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