'Public Sculpture in the Expanded Field'

An interdisciplinary session of the Association for Art History Annual Conference convened by Sarah Victoria Turner (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art) and Martina Droth (Yale Centre for British Art) aims to investigate some crucial matters that challenge Public Sculpture nowadays and inject new strength upon the reflection on contemporary sculpture’s role and interpretation.

Innovation in shapes and contents goes at the same pace with the persistence of traditional emblems: figurative schemes are even now preferred, bronze is still the main medium, statues always tend to be displayed on a pedestal. Ephemeral project are exceptions, as the public sphere is still entailing the idea of permanence.

And what about the reception? The interaction between public sculpture and its audience is quite a huge issue, which opens to a wide range of options spreading from indifference to vandalism and removal.

These are some of the topics the speakers will be confronting. Nickolas Lambrianou (Birkbeck College & the British Academy) reflects on the temporalization of a monument through its subsequent deplacements, bringing as an example the Granite Bowl commissioned by Schinkel as part of his urbanistic re-imagining of early XIX century Berlin. Jeeyoung Kim (Université Paris 8, France) analyzes the evolution of the status of installation art and the contradictions between installations and public commission through the case of Monumenta, launched for Paris’ Grand Palais by the French Minister of Culture and Communication in 2007. Brenda Schmahmann (University of Johannesburg) proposes an examination of creative interventions to monuments associated with Afrikaner nationalism as a response to the problem of what to do with public art associated with values that are now rejected. Further reflections on ephemerality and the relationship that fasten monumental sculpture with the flowing of time are suggested by Rebecca Peabody (Getty Research Institute)’s talk concerning Kara Walker 2014’s A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby . Kelly A Kivland (Dia Art Foundation) introduce a reflection on local communities’ stewardship on public sculpture illustrating the Spiral Jetty’s incident of 2002.

Main image: Monumenta 2007, Anselm Kiefer, Chute d’étoiles (Falling stars), panoramic view © Coll. Grand Palais, François Tomasi

‘Public Sculpture in the Expanded Field’ - Speakers and Abstracts

AAH Annual Conference 2019 full Programme & Timetable


Aurora Corio