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PRIVILEGING THE OBJECT OF SCULPTURE: ACTUALITY AND HARRY BATES'S PANDORA OF 1890

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Abstract:

Sculptural representation negotiates between being an image (for instance, a female nude) and an object (a thing made of marble, bronze, etc.). Questions of literality and objecthood are often reserved for assessments of later modernist sculpture, but I demonstrate that this same fundamental set of concerns preoccupied the late-Victorian sculptor Harry Bates in his Pandora of 1890. In this work, Bates staged sculptural actuality — that is, the equivalence in a sculpture between the thing represented and the sculptural object itself. He did so in order to position himself within late-Victorian debates about the future of sculpture and to make a polemical case for the potency of the decorative object as a new avenue for sculptors' efforts. Beyond allowing a reconsideration of the art-theoretical sophistication of so-called ‘academic’ nineteenth-century sculpture, Bates's Pandora illuminates on a more general level the parameters of sculptural representation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0141-6790.2005.00454.x

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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