Past Events

Sculpture in Motion

Call for Papers

  • 8 August to 7 November 2016
  • Deadline 12:00 am
  • Session at the Association of Art Historians Conference, Loughborough University, UK, April 6 – 8, 2017
A drawing showing people moving a very large sculpture

Nineveh sculptures, “Reception of Nineveh Sculptures at the British Museum,” Illustrated London News, February 28, 1852, p. 184

Sculpture is generally static. It tends to be thought of as solid, inert, and physically grounded. These qualities are deeply associated with some of its most traditional functions – to commemorate, memorialize, and provide permanent public symbols. But throughout its history, sculpture’s immobility has been held in tension with the fantasy of its potential motion and animation. This tension plays out in the dualities of its association with life and death. The potential of the statue coming to life, as in the Pygmalion myth, has been a constant reference point for sculpture and how it is written about. 

This interdisciplinary session seeks to examine the various ways in which sculpture has been put in motion, literally or metaphorically, and to consider what drives this desire to animate sculpture. Areas of possible investigation include the devices and artistic strategies that induce motion or an illusion of life – for example, turning statues on rotating pedestals; viewing statues by candlelight; the tinting and coloring of sculpture to create life-like effects; sophisticated technologies and mechanical devices such as animatronics, automata, and kinetics; the "living statue" and the tableau vivant; bringing sculpture to life in text; the suggestion of movement in photographs of sculpture; the appearance of sculpture in film. Proposals may address any period or area of sculpture, and can present case-studies or broader reflections. 

To submit a proposal, please email an abstract of no more than four hundred words, and a short CV or bio of no more than two pages, to martina.droth@yale.edu and svturner@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.
Deadline: November 7, 2016

Details about the conference can be found on the Association of Art Historians website.