David d’Angers: Making the Modern Monument

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Exhibition Dates: 

September 17 through December 8, 2013

plaster sculpted bust of man, with brow furrowed and head turned

Lauded by Victor Hugo as the Michelangelo of Paris, Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856) was one of the most important sculptors of the nineteenth century.  An ardent Republican, experimental writer, respected teacher, and confidant to innumerable artists and intellectuals (from Balzac and Paganini to Goethe and Delacroix), he was both celebrated and controversial during his lifetime.  Although today he is little known, David produced some of the most iconic portraits and ambitious public monuments of the Romantic era.  The Frick’s presentation—the first major exhibition devoted to the artist outside his native France—assembles forty-eight works on paper and in wax, terracotta, plaster, marble, and bronze, as well as rare nineteenth-century books of photographs and engravings; many of these have never before been exhibited.  Together, they reveal the artist’s quest to redefine the notion of a monument in a period marked by both intense historicism and the ever-accelerating rhythms of modernity.  The exhibition is organized by Emerson Bowyer, Guest Curator and former Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, The Frick Collection.  Support is generously provided by Antonio Weiss and Susannah Hunnewell, Margot and Jerry Bogert, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Bowyer comments, “In many ways, the sculptural achievements of David d’Angers parallel those of Géricault and Delacroix in painting.  His theoretical and aesthetic innovations greatly contributed to our modern obsessions with memory and celebrity, and provide a timely reminder of the possibilities for politically-engaged artistic practice in the twenty-first century.”  

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