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Revival and Invention

Sculpture through its Material Histories

Edited By Sébastien Clerbois and Martina Droth

Materials may seem to be sculpture’s most obvious aspect. Traditionally seen as a means to an end, and frequently studied in terms of technical procedures, their intrinsic meaning often remains unquestioned. Yet materials comprise a field rich in meaning, bringing into play a wide range of issues crucial to our understanding of sculpture. This book places materials at the centre of our approach to sculpture, examining their symbolic and aesthetic language, their abstract and philosophical associations, and the ways in which they reveal the political, economic and social contexts of sculptural practice. Spanning a chronology from antiquity through to the end of the nineteenth century, the essays collected in this book uncover material properties as fundamental to artistic intentionality.

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Acknowledgements xvii

Extract

Acknowledgements This book began as a three-day international colloquium at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 2005, organized collaboratively by the ULB and the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, at which 20 speakers, from seven countries, delivered their papers in two languages. The idea for the confer- ence originated in an exhibition titled Bronze: The Power of Life and Death, curated by Martina Droth at Leeds, which examined the rich symbolic mean- ings of bronze. A shared interest in the language of sculpture’s materiality brought Martina Droth and Sébastien Clerbois together on this project and resulted in the present volume. Only a small selection of the papers given at the conference is presented here, yet it was the breadth and depth of all the contributions – by speakers, chairs and those attending – that have informed this project, and the editors would like to thank all those who participated for enriching our understanding of the subject so greatly. This has been an expensive project, in particular as we sought to over- come language barriers where possible. The conference was presented in English and French by simultaneous translation (and we were indebted to David Stephens, Carine Puttevils and Vincent Buck for their skilful inter- pretation throughout the conference), but it would have been prohibitive to publish this book in two languages. We opted for English as the common language, so as to assemble French, Belgian and German contributions in one volume, and allowing the work of these scholars (which so often remains...

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