Nineveh, Amarna, Kyoto

Rupert Richard Arrowsmith

in Modernism and the Museum

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593699
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595684 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Nineveh, Amarna, Kyoto

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This chapter argues that the key technical innovation of Modernist sculpture—the switch from clay modelling to direct carving in stone —was prompted by the desire of London sculptors such as Epstein, Gill, and Gaudier-Brzeska to break free from the classical Greek tradition and base their work instead on the artistic conventions of various extra-European culture provinces. Epstein and Gill are shown to have created their first directly carved pieces in imitation of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain work from India, after which Epstein diversified into Assyrian and Egyptian approaches for his Tomb of Oscar Wilde. Gaudier-Brzeska, unable to afford the raw materials for such large-scale experiments, is shown to have drawn instead on the techniques and aesthetics of miniature Japanese netsuke carvings in the British Museum.

Keywords: Jacob Epstein; Eric Gill; Gaudier Brzeska; Oscar Wilde; Japanese art; Assyrian art; Indian art; direct carving; modernist sculpture; Egypt

Chapter.  9106 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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