Sculpture Photographed: A View from the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers

Date/Time: 12 July 2024 - 16 March 2025

Price: Free

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Sculpture and photography have existed in close proximity ever since the birth of photography in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Sculpture was one of the first subjects to be photographed, in part on account of its immobility which proved ideal for the long exposure times required for the early photographic processes and the suitability of white plaster and marble for a black and white medium.

It has remained an important subject throughout photographic history, utilised by some of the most well-known photographers over the past 150 years, from William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77) to Walker Evans (1903-75). Throughout this time photography has continued to influence the conception, process, documentation, marketing, display and reception of sculpture. Sculptors have not only collaborated with photographers but have themselves experimented with photographic techniques in the creation and documentation of artworks, including the use of cameraless photography, polaroids, collage and montage.

This display explores the role played by photography across the history and practice of sculpture from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. From offering an insight into the largely unseen processes of bronze casting in foundries, to charting the journey of monuments from foundry to public siting, photography has been used to document the lives of sculptures in their circulation across the globe.

The archiving function of photography now also provides a record of what no longer survives, as in the case of sculptures commissioned for temporary events, exhibitions or site-specific installations. Sculpture Photographed presents photographs, posters and printed material alongside maquettes, medallic portraits and objects from installations. It reveals the varying ways that sculptors have harnessed photography in the production and dissemination of their works, while photography has in turn re-examined and provided new interpretations of sculptures, both old and new.

This display is located in our new Archive Gallery (formerly known as the Lower Sculpture Study Gallery), which sits between Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute.

Image credit: Bernard Schottlander, Untitled (Red) 1972 outside the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Leeds Museums and Galleries (Archive of Sculptors’ Papers). Courtesy Estate of Bernard Schottlander.


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