Call for Papers Modern Sculpture, Essence, and Difference: Critical Reflections on the Work of Constantin Brancusi

Early Career Research Symposium - Friday 26th April 2024, The Courtauld Vernon Square Campus

How has the work of Constantin Brancusi shaped our perception of modern sculpture? How do social constructions of difference – of class, gender, race, and nationalism – manifest in his work? How has a critical heritage dedicated to understanding Brancusi’s pursuit of sculptural ‘essences’ warped and limited scholarly understanding of his oeuvre and its early twentieth-century context? How have notions of alterity, repetition, assimilation, and sequence been explored in responses to his work? What critical frameworks can help us understand Brancusi’s social and imaginative tactics, such as his control of the photographic representation of his work, his self-presentation as Romanian peasant, and his preoccupation with folklore? How can we build on the scholarship of Anna Chave, Alex Potts, John Warne Munroe, and Yaëlle Biro to better situate the full range of signification in Brancusi’s work within current movements of cultural history, critical theory, anthropology and philosophy? How can artists practicing today draw from or react against Brancusi’s example? What is Brancusi’s continuing relevance to those looking to innovate in sculptural techniques and processes, including working in direct carving, print making, casting. installation, with hand tools, in studios, and domestic spaces?

These are some of the questions that this Early Career Research symposium will seek to address through a programme of academic papers and creative responses. The day will culminate with an Artists’ Talk reflecting on Brancusi’s influence today: Lucy Skaer will be in conversation with Hannah Hughes, chaired by Dr. Rosalind McKever.

The symposium is part of the Henry Moore Foundation’s Brancusi and Britain research season which will re-examine Brancusi’s work and his reception in Britain, and coincides with the largest exhibition of Brancusi’s work ever organised, due to be held at the Centre Pompidou in 2024. This event also marks a collaboration between the Henry Moore Foundation and The Courtauld which are celebrating Moore with the exhibition Henry Moore: Shadows on the Wall to be staged at The Courtauld Gallery in Summer 2024.

Please send a 250-word abstract and 100-word bio to by 15th January 2024. Speakers will be notified by 9th February. Travel and accommodation costs within the UK will be reimbursed.

An abstract image of grey shapes against a green background
Hannah Hughes, Peel, 2022, unique collage, archival pigment printed papers