The Intersections Between Photography and Sculpture

Today’s post comes from our friends over at, a site dedicated to breaking exciting news in everything contemporary, including visual art. In the spirit of our ongoing content sharing partnership, we bring you an article on The Intersections Between Photography and Sculpture, a new exhibition currently on view at the MoMA in New York City. This article was originally published Tuesday Sep 7, 2010 by Paul Laster.

Herbert Bayer. American, born Austria. 1900–1985 Humanly Impossible. 1932 Gelatin silver print, 15 3/8 x 11 9/16" (39 x 29.3 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Purchase © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Although sculpture is a three-dimensional form that needs to be seen to be experienced, it’s normally reproduced through photography. Since the inception of photography, artists and photographers have used the camera to not only capture sculptural forms on film but to stage scenes with objects and document performances that now only exist in print. Likewise, artists have long used photomontage to construct sculptural fantasies purely from the imagination. Examining the intersections between photography and sculpture, The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art offers new ways of understanding what sculpture is, as well as a chance to explore the aesthetic evolution of photography through its rich, 170-year history.

Bruce Nauman. American, born 1941 Self-Portrait as a Fountain from the portfolio Eleven Color Photographs. 1966–67/1970 Inkjet print (originally chromogenic color print), 20 1/16 x 23 3/4" (50.9 x 60.3 cm) Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Gerald S. Elliott Collection © 2010 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Without following a chronological order, the show is organized around ten conceptual compartments that allow its curator, Roxana Marcoci, to expose shared interests between artists of different generations and to isolate moments in time, such as the collaboration between Rodin and various photographers documenting his work and Brancusi’s use of photography to capture his sculptures and studio in another light. The section “Cultural and Political Icons” focuses on images of statues and symbols, both revered and hated, while “Studio Without Walls” investigates documentation of Land Art and artistic urban interventions. Meanwhile, the “Pygmalion Complex” presents surrealist images from the movement’s heyday to its later embrace by contemporary artists as a means to confound the viewer.

Sibylle Bergemann. German, born 1941 Das Denkmal, East Berlin (The monument, East Berlin). 1986 Gelatin silver print, 19 11/16 x 23 5/8" (50 x 60 cm) Sibylle Bergemann/Ostkreuz Agentur der Fotografen, Berlin © 2010 Sibylle Bergemann/Ostkreuz Agentur der Fotografen, Berlin

Displaying over 300 photographs, magazines, and journals by more than 100 artists — ranging from William Fox Talbot and Eugene Atget to Bruce Nauman and Rachel Harrison The Original Copy grants viewers the opportunity to reconsider the development of photography from the perspective of the digital age, while gaining a new awareness of the changing definition of sculpture throughout time.

The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, which is accompanied by a catalog, is on view at MoMA through November 1.