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April 2, 2018

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library

We will be welcoming André Dombrowski for a talk entitled: “How Multimedial was the 19th Century? The Case of Photo-Sculpture.” André writes:

Few artistic media seem as diametrically opposed as sculpture and photography. Almost impossible to fuse into one reproductive technology until the advent of 3D printing, the two techniques nonetheless formed a brief and curious alliance during the Second Industrial Revolution, when, around 1860, François Willème (1830-1905) invented photo-sculpture. His photomechanical method used to produce portrait statuettes was all the rage in the following decade, before falling out of favor soon thereafter. A set of simultaneous photographs, capturing the sitter in a full 360 degrees, was translated by means of various pantographic tracing-devices into the third dimension, and eventually cast in multiples by traditional sculptural means. Given the inherent trans-mediations of the process, having one’s photo-sculpture taken was no simple task. Through an analysis of period reviews and caricatures, I will trace the limits of the period’s imagination when it came to the new heights of multi-media and multifunctional representations birthed by industrial means of production and self-stylization. Furthermore, I use the process to interrogate a variety of issues central to the industrial age’s impact on design, portraiture, and conceptions of selfhood. Due to their extreme fragility, few actual photo-sculptures have survived the test of time, and there is but one example of which several copies are known that will be at the center of my lecture: the photo-sculpturethat Ann Louisa Benedict Lockwood, wife of Connecticut railroad entrepreneur LeGrand Lockwood, had made of herself in Paris in 1867.

André Dombrowski is Associate Professor in the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching center on the arts and material cultures of France and Germany, and their empires, in the mid to late nineteenth century. He is particularly concerned with the social and intellectual rationales behind the emergence of avant-garde painting in the period. Dombrowski is author of Cézanne, Murder, and Modern Life(University of California Press, 2013; Phillips Book Prize) and is currently completing a new book, tentatively entitled Instants, Moments, Minutes: Monet and the Industrialization of Time, which studies the connections that link the advent of impressionist “instantaneity” with the histories and technologies of modern time-keeping. He has also published on the political imagery surrounding the Dreyfus Affair and Second Empire decorative arts and design.