The National in Discourses of Sculpture in the Long Modern Period (c. 1750–1950)

Day: Thursday 5 April


Tomas Macsotay (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
Roberto C Ferrari (Columbia University, New York)

Session Abstract

Are specific histories of national ‘schools’ of sculpture premised by the codifying of national identities? What role has been reserved for modern European languages and their historical networks of cultural transfer in enabling or inhibiting this circulation of nationalism in sculpture criticism? From the veneration of Greek art by Winckelmann, to the Romantic idea of a Northern spirit in the work of Thorvaldsen; from the imperial narratives of display at the World’s Fairs, to constructions of allegory in French Third Republic art; from monuments to fallen heroes after World War I, to Greenberg’s and Read’s critical biases for national sculptors – varieties of imaginary geographies in the long modern period have congealed into a fitful history where sculpture is entrenched in projections of the national. Discourses of exclusion and inclusion became part of how sculptors were trained, public spaces were ornamented, and audiences were taught to read sculpture. These discourses also played a role in the strengthening (and dissimulation) of increasingly border-crossing networks of industrial production, globalised art trade, and patterns of urban infrastructure and design.

This panel will present papers that offer critical explorations of the national and its tentative ties to the cosmopolitan in sculptural discourse,
and also consider transdisciplinary dialogues between sculpture and its texts through art school writings, criticism, memoirs and biographies, etc.

Speakers & Papers

Nóra Veszprémi (University of Birmingham) The National as Non-Classical: Shaping a national style in early 19th-century Hungary

Andrew Eschelbacher (Portland Museum of Art) Broken Rhetoric: National aesthetics and the neo-Baroque in fin-desiècle France

Claire Jones (University of Birmingham) Sculpture ‘in Britain’ vs. ‘British’ Sculpture: Reintegrating the international within the national

Sharon Hecker (Independent scholar) Contested Loyalties? International sculptors and their posthumous national reputations (Medardo Rosso)

Jack Quin (University of York) ‘Let an Irish sculptor chisel it’: The politics of sculpture-writing in the Celtic revival

Cristina Rodriguez Samaniego and Juan C Bejarano (Universitat de Barcelona) Noucentista Sculpture and the Construction of a Catalan National Identity: The case of Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya (1927–29)

Nina Lübbren (Anglia Ruskin University) The Nationalist Languages of Sculpture Criticism in Germany, 1919–1945

Veronica Davies (Open University) English and International: Exhibiting Henry Moore’s sculpture in post-War Germany

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