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The studio practice of Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) as revealed by an examination of selected contemporaneous photographs and a selection of his sculptural fragments

Morgan, Elin Jane (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis explores the studio practice of Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), via an examination of selected contemporaneous photographs of the sculptor and his studio, and a selection of his sculptural fragments. Whilst the photographs purport to ‘document’ Epstein’s work in the studio, more accurately the images reveal a partial, highly constructed projection of Epstein’s self-image. In contrast, the sculpted fragments, not only function as indexes of the sculptor’s creative process, but also open up multiple lines of enquiry regarding Epstein’s approach to sculpture. Additionally, the juxtaposition of two disparate sources – photographs and part-objects – which, despite their crucial differences, lend themselves to a discussion of Epstein’s studio practice, also provokes discussion of Epstein’s convergence and departure from many of his contemporaries. ‘The studio’ was central to the conceptualisation of ‘the modernist sculptor.’ Geoffrey Ireland’s photographs of Epstein align with the modernist preoccupation with sculptural process and indexicality, and present Epstein as an archetypal modernist sculptor. ‘The fragment’ was also a central preoccupation for modernist sculptors. Whilst the examination of the photographs aligns Epstein with his contemporaries, discussion of his fragments reveals his departure. Epstein’s figurative part-objects predominantly relate to full sculptures and are reflective of his working method, art education, deference to Rodin and veneration of ancient sculpture.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
Subjects:AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
NB Sculpture
TR Photography
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3751
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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