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24 October

Plâtre ou pas ?

Sculpture du visage du roi K'inich Janaab' Pakal (moulage), Maya des Basses Terres. Palenque, Mexique, Amérique © musée du quai Branly, photo Claude Germain - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Sculpture of the face of King K'inich Janaab Pakal (plaster cast), lowland Maya. Palenque, Mexico, Americas © musée du quai Branly, photograph Claude Germain

 

from 13 november 2012 to 27 january 2013

  • Atelier Martine Aublet, central mezzanine
  • Collections or twin ticket

 

 

 

About the installation

The second installation presented in the Atelier Martine Aublet, Plâtre ou pas ? examines the issue of the copy through the art of plaster casting, with particular emphasis on the fields of ethnology and archaeology.

Long consigned to the context of the workshop, plaster casting is an ancient practice which has been used since Antiquity Initially a tool, it has long been discredited as being removed from the original work, which was considered as the only authentic artistic expression. In the 19th century, its disciplinary field was enlarged: in the face of scientific demand, the production of imprints for the purposes of documentation and dissemination became more widespread.

Today, our view of these copies has changed. Just like ethnographic photography has been re-evaluated as being more than its documentary quality, plaster casts can acquire the status of a separate work of art. Material indications of distant societies and civilisations, plaster casts enable us to obtain a more profound knowledge. The antagonism between authenticity and artificiality is thus no longer at the centre of the debate, confronted as it is by such objects; objects whose documentary value increased when they became the only evidence of an original which has since been lost.

In parallel with the installation, the musée du quai Branly and the musée des Monuments français, the heritage department of the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, are organising a colloquium Plaster casting; historical practices and contemporary views on 14 and 15 November 2012.

 

 

Moulage de pendentif Hei tiki, plâtre peint en vert et rouge (original en jade). Nouvelle-Zélande, Océanie © musée du quai Branly, photo Claude Germain - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Plaster cast of Hei Tiki pendant, plaster painted in green and red (original in jade). New Zealand, Oceania © musée du quai Branly, photograph Claude Germain
Modèle de tatouage de jambe, plâtre. Îles Marquises, Océanie © musée du quai Branly, photo Claude Germain - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Model of leg tattoo, plaster. Marquesas Islands, Oceania © musée du quai Branly, photograph Claude Germain
Moulage, représentation anthropomorphe stylisée, plâtre pâtiné . Afrique © musée du quai Branly, photo Claude Germain - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Plaster cast, stylised anthropomorphic representation, patinated plaster. Africa © musée du quai Branly, photograph Claude Germain

Installation overview

The installation contains almost 60 plaster casts of very varied sizes, from reproductions of tiny objects – decorative items, seals and statuettes – to large bas-reliefs and life-sized sculptures. 

The objects are presented in eight display cases according to the following themes: Creating collections: inheritance and accumulation; Colonial sculpture; Replicating objects; Replicating monuments; Plaster casting: the art of illusion; Replicating and exchanging masterpieces; Distributing, studying, preserving; Strangeness and curiosities.

Finally, three audiovisual programmes complete the installation: a slide show of photographs relating to artists Paul Ducuing (1867-1949) and Gustave Hierholtz (1887-1956), echoing the plaster casts from the colonial period; a programme dedicated to the photographs of Désiré Charnay and to the plaster casts of the great Mexican sites; extracts from two fiction films, Somewhere by Sofia Coppola and Journey to Italy by Roberto Rossellini in which plaster casting and the taking of imprints are highlighted.