Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Polychromy and Its Environments

I'm quite flattered and pleased that I've been invited to be one of the guest speakers at a conference entitled Polychromy and Its Environments: New Perspectives on Colour and the Display of Nineteenth-Century Sculpture. The conference will be held in June at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England. You can read more about the conference by clicking here. (bklynbiblio readers will recall my series of posts, such as this one, from when I received a research fellowship from the HMI back in October/November 2010.) The conference addresses the fact that people are used to seeing sculpture as a monochromatic art, e.g. white marble or brown bronze. In fact, color has been a vibrant part of sculpture's history and its installation. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans painted their marble statues, an idea which still surprises people today. In an attempt to revive this practice for a modern audience, John Gibson (1790-1866) reintroduced polychromy with a number of his marble statues from the 1840s on by applying wax-based pigments to the figures. The most famous of these was the Tinted Venus, which you see here in a photograph from when the work was displayed in London at the International Exhibition of 1862 (image: Courtauld Institute of Art). I've tentatively entitled my paper "From the Studio to the Fair: Re-Viewing John Gibson's Tinted Venus," with the intention of arguing that we need to put aside our preconceived notions about this work and its reception by "re-viewing" it in the context of both his studio in Rome and at the International Exhibition, and by reconsidering the reviews published about it at the time. Wish me luck!


pranogajec said...

So after we've put away our preconceived views, what will we see?

bklynbiblio said...

You will have to hear the paper to know what you will see!