On the hunt for one of Emmanuel Fremiet’s cat bronzes? Want to play a game on Man Ray’s chess set? Curious to know which state has the most Louise Bourgeois sculptures? (It’s New York, hands down.) All these pressing queries and more will be answered thanks to the French Sculpture Census, an initiative to catalogue every single sculpture by a French artist in a US cultural institution or collection. Spearheaded by University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) professor Laure de Margerie, the digital database, which launched this month and is formally titled “The Census of French Sculpture in American Public Collections (1500-1960),” already has over 7,100 entries (which can be browsed by artist or location) and is expected to include records for between 15,000 and 20,000 pieces by the time it’s complete.
The project began, in embryonic form, in 2001. Inspired by the global inventory of 19th-century French sculptures at the Musée d’Orsay, where she worked for 30 years, de Margerie began a similar census of US museum collections using the library of the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts. After moving to Dallas in 2009, she reactivated the long-dormant project, and, with help from UTD, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Paris’s Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, and the École du Louvre, the census’s website launched earlier this month.
The project aims to cover not only museum collections, but also the holdings of libraries, public institutions, historic houses, government buildings, science museums, and public spaces. And don’t be startled when you come across works in the database by an artist who is obviously not French, like, say, Medardo Rosso. You have not accidentally stumbled onto the Italian Sculpture Census; rather, de Margerie’s project also includes works “created by artists who came to France to work durably or settle permanently.”
However, the most glaring question raised by the project remains unanswered: why French sculpture? In her introduction to the site, de Margerie cites Jean-Antoine Houdon’s late-18th-century statue of George Washington and France’s gift of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in the late 19th century as crucial moments in American history and art history. The census may become a valuable resource for scholars and students — or, at the very least, it will settle disputes between drunken art-loving Francophiles over who’s better represented in US art collections, Seraphin Soudbinine or Théodore Rivière. (Spoiler alert: It’s Rivière, by a landslide.)
The close, careful, and subtle observation I found this year is representative of precisely why I continue to gravitate to this fair.
How do we counter stereotypes about Black mothers, while stressing the importance of memory, determination, love, and corporeality?
An expansive exhibition on Adeliza McHugh’s influential Candy Store Gallery celebrates the whimsical, irreverent aesthetic that put California’s Sacramento Valley on the art-historical map.
With two stellar retrospectives, one time-based installation, and several commissions by local artists, the Phillips Collection has dedicated its galleries to highlighting abstract work by Black artists.
As we begin a new year, a small moment on Queer Eye makes me think about the profound effect our stories can have on each other.
Each fellow in this 10-month intensive in New Haven, Connecticut, will receive studio or office space, subsidized housing, and a generous stipend.
Some have criticized the racist monument’s planned relocation to North Dakota, near land seized from Indigenous people.
A group called the Boriken Libertarian Forces toppled the monument hours before King Felipe VI of Spain’s visit.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Still resonating with relevance, William Gropper’s incisive cartoons in defense of the WPA go on auction at New York’s Swann Galleries together with other works by celebrated WPA artists.
Archeologists excavating in Nijmegen, the Netherland’s oldest city, found the bowl in pristine condition.
A pioneer of street photography, Levitt worked in the most crowded and poorest neighborhoods of New York searching for the theater of everyday life.