About the Conference
Organized by the Department of Art History, Ghent University, and the Department of History, KULeuven Campus Kortrijk.
In collaboration with ESNA (European Society of Nineteenth-Century Art) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent
Confirmed keynote presentation by Antoinette Le Normand-Romain
In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War drove the young Auguste Rodin and his master Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse to Belgium, where they both acquired some public commissions despite objections against their French nationality. Even though war was perhaps one of the most radical reasons driving sculptors beyond the borders of their own nation, the mentioned transnational trajectories of both Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse were by no means isolated or coincidental incidents. The study of old and new collections of art, as well as the studios of renowned masters in Paris or Rome attracted many aspiring sculptors to the old and new artistic capitals of Europe. Alternative art markets, commissions or exhibition opportunities activated many sculptors to pursue a career abroad, despite of the difficulties their foreignness, and their bulky discipline in a foreign country might have implied. Additionally, sculptors were, probably even more so than painters, dependent on commissions, and therefore often obliged to travel to provide for their revenues. The presence of foreign sculptors on large construction sites, or their involvement in prestigious public commissions, however, often led to hostilities by native colleagues, who feared for their positions and possibilities, when confronted with skilled foreign competition.
During this two-day symposium, speakers are invited to reflect upon the subject matter of the transnational mobility of sculptors and the implications for these artists and their art during the long nineteenth century. In the course of this century, the creation of nation-states coincided with an increasing international focus by artists, their commissioners, sellers, buyers and critics. The impact of a sculptor’s nationality on his reception and ‘imaging’, as well as their mobility across borders remain ambiguous. Sculptors were regularly encouraged to study abroad, and recognized for their experience and success beyond the borders of the own nation. Simultaneously, however, they were often expected to represent the nation, and showcase the own ‘national school’ with its peculiar properties, and extending from the own national tradition.
Conference Aims and Objectives
This conference aims to address the role of art criticism, the art market, exhibitions, education, commissions etc. for sculptors in an international context, and the implications for their (inter)national or local identity. Participants are invited to reflect on the theoretical and/or practical implications of (trans)nationality, travel and cultural mobility on nineteenth-century sculptors and their work.
Papers may include but are not limited to the following topics
- Transnational exchange (both between centres and peripheries), internationalism of sculptors and their work.
- Travel and mobility of sculptors and sculptures
- Nationality, nationalism, and the development of nationhood in relation to the development of sculpture
- Prejudice, or even rejection, due to a sculptor’s foreign nationality
- Transnational friendships between sculptors, or hostilities because of their nationality
- National or international appeal of public commissions and competitions announced abroad
- The impact of foreign experience and recognition on the national reputation and ‘imaging’ of a sculptor
- Discussion and reviewing of foreign sculptors and ‘sculpture schools’ in foreign, national and local press
- The ambiguous, sometimes opportunistic attitudes of sculptors in league of commissions and recognition towards their own nationality.
- The construction of ‘national schools’ in sculpture in relation to a local/national/international tradition
- Comparisons of different ‘national sculpture schools’, and the question whether it is possible to distinguish a national style for sculpture in the first place
- Mechanisms of international influencing in nineteenth-century sculpture
- Identity and ‘national schools’ and the arts, notably sculpture
- Commercial or artistic drivers of mobility for sculptors
- Movement at meta/macro/micro levels of both sculptors and sculptures
- Artistic practice vs. theory in sculpture
- Gender and mobility in the practice of sculpture
We invite proposals for papers of 20 minute duration. Please send a 300 word abstract and a brief biographical statement (max 150 words) attached in PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than October, 1, 2015.
This symposium originates from the research project “In search of a national (s)cul(p)ture. Belgian sculptors abroad and foreign sculptors in Belgium”, funded by BOF, Ghent University.
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