The Sculpture of the Écorché

Institute Conference
7th June 2014
The Henry Moore Institute, 10.30-4.30pm

Thomas Mewburn Crook
'Stage 9a: Anatomical Studies of the Human Figure from the Flat'
Pencil, ink and watercolour on paper

Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute Archive)

This one-day conference takes the écorché as its subject, reconsidering the many ways that models of the flayed figure have been understood from the sixteenth century to the present day. Across seven papers, the conference addresses the écorché variously as a teaching object for the education of sculptors, as a scientific model crucial to the understanding of anatomy, as a sculptural process and as a sculptural object in its own right.

The écorché has frequently operated across disciplinary boundaries and registers of respectability. Makers of wax écorchés in the eighteenth century, such as the Florentine Clemente Susini (1754-1814), were highly acclaimed during their lifetimes, with their work sought by prestigious collectors. By the nineteenth century, however, wax had come to be seen as a merely preparatory, or even a disreputable, medium for sculpture with its capacity for forensic detail and mimetic reproduction of bone, muscle and skin operating against the prevailing neoclassical tendency towards ideal form. As a result of this change in taste, the écorché in plaster of Paris became the primary teaching object for anatomical studies in European Academies and Schools of Art into the twentieth century.

Speakers and papers include:

Roberta Ballestriero (Open University)
'Under the Wax Skin: Representation of the Écorché in the Art of Ceroplastics'

Lisa Bourla (University of Pennsylvania)
'Cigoli's Écorché, Giambologna's Studio and the "Poe Paradox"'

Meredith Gamer (Yale University)
'"A necessary inhumanity": William Hunter's Criminal Écorchés'

Naomi Slipp (Boston University)
'Thomas Eakins and the Écorché: Understanding the Human Body in Three Dimensions'

Natasha Ruiz-Gómez (University of Essex)
'In Sickness and in Health: Doctor Paul Richer's Écorché at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts'

Elena Dumitrescu (National University of Arts, Bucharest)
'The Écorché by Brancusi and Gerota: An artwork created at the School of Fine Arts of Bucharest'

Stefan Grohé (University of Cologne)
'An Anatomy of Sculpture: The "Ecorche, dit de Michel-Ange" and its Transformations in Modern Art'

The conference will be chaired by Professor Fay Brauer (University of East London/University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts), Dr Nina Kane (University of Huddersfield) and Dr Rebecca Wade (Henry Moore Institute).