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    Grief encounter: the language of mourning in Fin-de-Siècle sculpture

    Fraser, Hilary (2018) Grief encounter: the language of mourning in Fin-de-Siècle sculpture. Word and Image 334 (1), pp. 40-54. ISSN 0266-6286.

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    Herder’s Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion’s Creative Dream, first published in 1778 under the title Plastik, makes a crucial intervention in the history of aesthetics. Where Lessing, in Laocoön (1766), had distinguished between the arts on the basis of the spatial or temporal arrangement of their constitutive semiotic elements, Herder’s analysis of the differences between the arts turns, as his modern editor Jason Gaiger notes, on ‘their specific modes of “address”’. As an art of relief and depth, Herder argues, sculpture demands haptic engagement; ‘for what are properties of bodies’, he asks, ‘if not relations to our own body, to our sense of touch?’ As the invocation of Pygmalion’s creative dream in Herder’s subtitle implies, the ability to grasp a sculptural form can bring it to life: ‘the sculpture lives and his soul feels that it lives’. Herder’s essay provides a conceptual framework and historical grounding for my own experiment in synaesthesia as embodied practice, one that reaches back to late nineteenth-century art writing and sculpture to frame and comprehend a modern encounter. But, I argue, contrary to the promise of animation offered by the Pygmalion myth, memorial sculpture is poignantly resistant to the possibility of coming to life, however vital the feelings of the contemplative lover. Engaging with Herder, and inscribing my encounters with sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Edward Onslow Ford within a fin-de-siècle tradition of feeling, this essay proposes an anti-Pygmalion counter-myth for the origins of sculpture as a medium of mourning.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Sculpture, Nineteenth-Century, Mourning
    School: School of Arts > English, Theatre and Creative Writing
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Hilary Fraser
    Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2017 13:32
    Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 10:13


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