Alexandre FalguièreThe Dancer© RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Daniel Arnaudet / Jean Schormans
The practice of life casting was wide spread in the nineteenth century, and was considered a standard part of the sculptor's technique. A documentary piece or an testimony of affection, the life cast, in its extremely accurate representation of reality, soon gave birth to a violent polemic in the history of European sculpture, the unjust scandal orchestrated around Rodin's L'Age d'Airin
being the best known. The technique of life casting shared the same stakes as realism in sculpture and the representation and appropriation of the human body or its fragments, appropriations that scientific, or considered as such, disciples, used systematically throughout the 19th century with a didactic purpose. Mirroring artistic practices, the exhibition will show phrenological, ethnographic casts, but also medical, zoological and botanical ones, thus constituting a varied panorama of an little-known technique that was nonetheless widely spread in 19th-century private (the artist's studio) and public (scientific collections) spheres.
Curator Edouard Papet, curator, Musée d'Orsay
Exhibition also presented at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds from February 16 to May 19, 2002, at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg from June 14 to September 1, 2002 and at the Museo Vela, Ligornetto, Office fédéral de la culture from September 14 to November 17, 2002.