Call for Papers: Sculpting abroad. International mobility of nineteenth-century sculptors and their work (Ghent, 26-27 February 2016)

Deadline proposals: October 1, 2016

Organized by the Department of Art History, Ghent University, and the Department of History, KULeuven Campus Kortrijk. In collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, ESNA (European Society of Nineteenth-Century Art) and research platform XIX.

Keynote presentations by Antoinette Le Normand-Romain (INHA, Paris) and Sura Levine (Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts)

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.

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.

For more information, see the full call for papers.

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