Sculpture through its Material Histories
Sébastien Clerbois and Martina Droth - Introduction xix
Sébastien Clerbois and Martina Droth Introduction Sculpture has long been the more marginal field relative to painting, treated as a specialism, a subject apart, rather than one that is integral to the history of art. This situation has begun to change markedly over the past twenty years or so, perhaps at least partly because of shifts in contemporary prac- tices, which have given sculpture a newly configured place within wider, more loosely-defined approaches. The history of sculpture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is one that is marked, if anything, by the disap- pearance of works that may be defined as ‘sculpture’ with any clarity, while at the same time evidencing a trans-disciplinarity within which few works are made that do not evoke some kind of ‘sculptural’ aspect. Materials have been central to this. For the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, sculpture’s perceived conventionality was inextricably bound up with its objecthood, which in turn was innately defined by mate- rials. The desire for the reinvention of a sculpture for the modern age, as articulated, for instance, by Umberto Boccioni’s 1912 Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture, was ultimately based on a rejection of sculpture’s mate- rial traditions (‘It is necessary to destroy the pretended nobility, entirely literary and traditional, of marble and bronze, and to deny squarely that one must use a single material for a sculptural ensemble’).1 Although Boccioni’s own proclaimed attempts to create a model for sculpture that would break new ground were ultimately contradicted by...
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