Sculpture Journal

Momentary vs. monumentary: Medardo Rosso and public sculpture

Sculpture Journal (2013), 22, (1), 83–96.

Abstract

This article explores the reasons behind Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso's failure to conceive, secure and realize a monumental commission. After describing the nineteenth-century phenomenon of ‘monumentomania’, it offers an anthology of the critics' and public's reactions to Rosso's anti-monumental style. It analyses Rosso's experimentation with life-sized figures and his theoretical and technical difficulties in producing them. It also argues that Rosso manipulated the public's perception of the real size of his pieces by photographing them without scale indicators, so that his ‘broad’ style would make the works appear physically big. It describes how, when Rodin unveiled his Monument to Balzac, Rosso publicly challenged him claiming the authorship of the sculpture's conception. Lastly, it investigates some technical aspects regarding plaster casting and arming. Analysing Rosso's studio photographs, one can notice the absence of proper arming materials and tools, a further fact that would have limited Rosso's capacity to produce a monument.

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Author details

Bacci, Francesca