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 13th November 2012 to 27th January 2013

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

 

 

 

About the installation

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

Long consigned to the workshop, plaster casting is an ancient practice which has been used since Antiquity. Initially a tool, it was long discredited for being far removed from the original work, which was originally 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 as ethnographic photography is now considered and valued as more than a mere documentary tool, plaster casts can acquire the status of works of art in their own right. Plaster casts function as the material imprints of distant societies and civilisations and thus help to enrich our knowledge. They acquire a priceless value when they are the sole expressions of a lost original. As such, the antagonism between authenticity and artificiality is no longer at the centre of the debate.

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 14th and 15th 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 various 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; Peculiar objects 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.