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Professor David J Getsy, ‘Actuality and Sculpture’



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When sculptors represent the functional object on a one-to-one scale, does the sculpture become that object?

This talk will examine this question through a discussion of Harry Bates’s Pandora 1890 and Scott Burton’s Bronze Chair 1975.

If a central anxiety for modern sculpture has been that it is sometimes indistinguishable from everyday objects or spaces, then how do assertively representational and realist sculptures – like the Pandora or the Bronze Chair – propose to overcome the assumed opposition between literalism and representation, between image and object?

Tracking this question across the history of modern sculpture allows for a different understanding of nineteenth-century sculpture’s art-theoretical complexity to emerge.

Harry Bates, 'Pandora' 1890, marble, ivory and bronze on marble base. © Tate.


Tickets are free, and can be booked online via Zoom.


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About the speaker

David J. Getsy is the author of Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art (2022), Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (2015/2023), Rodin: Sex an the Making of Modern Sculpture (2010), and Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877–1905 (2004).

He teaches at the University of Virginia, where he is the Eleanor Shea Professor of Art History.

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