From Idol to Museum Piece: Alternative Histories of Sculpture 1660-1815
09 / 2011 - 08 / 2014
The publication of Winckelmann's Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums in 1764 is generally considered as the defining moment in the genesis of the modern, scholarly study of sculpture. Its immediate success and recognition as a new departure in the study of classical art however has obscured from view other ways of studying the history of sculpture and thinking about the meaning and importance of that art: from the history of idolatry by Borboni and Lemée to the anthropological and ethnographical approaches to the origins, religious role and cultural meaning of sculpture by De Brosses, Guasco, Dulaure and Quatremère de Quincy. The aim of this program is to bring together European and American experts from art history and major European sculpture departments to reconstruct these alternative histories, which have regained their relevance now that the assumptions on which Winckelmann's Geschichte was based have been submitted to a radical critique; to publish their major texts in critical editions and to present the results of this program as well in museum contexts.