Close Encounters: the sculptor's studio in the age of the camera
25th September 2001 - 6th January 2002
Galleries 1, 2 and 3
Hans Arp in his Studio 1938
Close Encounters is an exhibition that looks at the individual sculptor’s studio. It takes a closer look at how photography articulated a changing notion of the studio and of sculptural endeavour, redefining the objects and environments of sculpture itself. The exhibition’s span, from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, was the heyday of the individual sculptor’s studio and coincided with the expanding use of photography in the visual arts. Studio photographs, whether published or private, were used to do more than simply ‘document’ an individual work and often communicate the complicated relationship between sculptor, object and environment.
Close Encounters begins with a selection of photographs which invite the viewer to move from close-up images of sculpture and sculptor, to studio panoramas in which the sculptor does not appear at all. Approximately 60 photographs are on display and the studios of both avant-garde and academic sculptors working in Britain and France are represented. The studios of Epstein, Gill, Hepworth, Archipenko, Zadkine, Brancusi and Gaudier-Brzeska (amongst others) can be seen in the company of sculpture by Rodin, Moore and Picasso.
The focus of the exhibition is Brassaï’s groundbreaking series of studio photographs, reproduced in 1933 in the Surrealist journal Minotaure, after Maurice Raynal’s article ‘Dieu-Table-Cuvette’. Important sculptures by Brancusi, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Laurens, Despiau and Maillol will be displayed in front of large-scale versions of the photographs in which these very works actually appeared. In the final gallery we move from large-scale pieces staged in the studio setting to small-scale, horizontal sculptures which resemble miniature studio ensembles in their own right. Sculptures by Moore, Hepworth, Arp and Turnbull, dating from the early 1930s to the mid-1950s, encourage us to rethink our focus once again as we encounter smaller set pieces from above and in the round.
In the adjacent Study Galleries of Leeds City Art Gallery we present a small complementary exhibition of Maquettes for Monuments by Jean Dubuffet (1901-85), all borrowed from the Dubuffet Foundation. These maquettes, created between 1967 and 1970, take up the theme of internal and external viewpoints by showing the artist’s development of fantastic monuments into which the viewer could enter. Presented in the year of Dubuffet’s centenary, the selection focuses on his long-running ‘Hourloupe’ cycle which culminated in the ‘Tour aux Figures’ eventually erected outside Paris (1985-88) as a memorial to the artist himself.