Reports

There is currently ongoing exhibition „Lens-Based Sculpture: Die Veränderung der Sculptur durch die Fotografie“ in Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein organized in cooperation with Berlin Akademie der Künste. And in Henry Moore Institute in Leeds is just now to be seen the exhibition „Photographing Sculpture: How the Image Moves the Object“. Seemingly marginal theme of the relationship between sculpture and photography is in fact extremely current. Exhibitions are taking place, studies are being written, conference is getting ready. To claim, that the photography of a sculpture isn´t neutral, is useless. More important sounds the question: why do we deal with this relationship so thoroughly right now? Couple of „true pictures“ could hint the answer.

1
The eightyone-year old art historian sat down to his desk to write the preface to the forthcoming book about his long-time friend´s sculptures. In head he haven´t started to unfold a continuous story, which he could transfer to the paper, but fragments of what they experienced together. From the twenty-year friendship besides the file of memories he has also preserved a few sculptures, which the sculptor donated to him. Now the art historian has arranged them in front of him and intently was looking at them so they could tell him how to write the preface about their author. The text has really started to unfold. He wrote about many things. He wrote about the strong influence of M.B.Braun and about his famous sculptures in Kuks, whose appearances were as if cursed in natural sandstone formations and Braun just liberated them from it. By such commentary he overpassed the boundary of pathos, naivete and non-scientism. The art historian actually wasn´t the art historian at all. Although he studied history of art and worked in the National gallery he purposely gave up the academic career in the ideologically-driven institutions of the past regime, from art historian to become „the friend of artists“. He began to visit their studios, he looked at recently created works and talked about them. In doing so he completely abandoned methods of the history of art and embraced the perception and the thinking close to artists. If the ideal of the artist instead of calculus and speculation carefully observes  and similarly as to the Braun the natural formation tells him the future appearance of his artwork, the art historian, actually the friend of artists, copies the same principle, when he discards all methodology, artworks just arranges in front of himself, observes them, waits for their hint and only then will start to write. If the appearance of an artwork is hidden in a natural formation, the same the interpretation is hidden in an artwork. Common trust in direct, not-mediated view confirms the closeness between an artist and the friend of artists. And what role plays here the photography? None at all. As an device of an art historian it can preserve, transfer, compare and interpret the works of art. But to the friend of artists it inhibits from the not-mediated view to the original sculpture, from listening to what it says.

2
When about several generations younger art historian writes the text just like this one, no sculpture will give him any hint. Even though he writes about the artist, who was also inspired by Braun, the situation is completely different. The artist photographed Braun´s sculpture from several angles, according to the images he created new sculptures, which he photographed again and new photos put on usb. stick or sent them by mail and now they are shining on computer´s display. This multiple representation is the most inherent condition of the art historian´s work. His task isn´t to mourn over the lost immeadiacy of his generational predecessors, but to analyse the changes, which has happened in the representational shifts. Just at this focus the art historians, who prepared the exhibitions in Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein and Henry Moore Institute, but the similar problem analyzes also the contemporary artist at the present exhibition at the etc.gallery. The closeness of the art historian and an artist is being establish ones again, even in the contrastive principle than in the case of their generational predecessors. Moreover the mentioned foreign exhibitions can provide methodological devices for the description of what we see on the present exhibition in Prague. Braun like variations could be appropriately characterized as Lens-Based- Sculptures and series of objects on the wall captures the phrase How the Image Moves the Object.

Jan Wollner

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