Sculpture Journal

Casting negatives: Medardo Rosso’s Ecce Puer in light of the darkroom

Sculpture Journal (2019), 28, (1), 55–74.

Abstract

Medardo Rosso (1858–1928) devoted his last decades to revising his existing sculptural corpus in unconventional ways. Key to this was his hands-on attention to casting and photography. Developing from my own darkroom experiments with photographs of Rosso’s final sculpture, Ecce Puer (1906), this article explores how experiences that the artist would have encountered while producing photographs may have informed his sculptures. Rosso established tonal shifts across his casts akin to those that he achieved through photography; he fashioned new casts that presented negatives of earlier ones; and he introduced soft-focus to the sculpted form by adjusting the apparent sharpness of details. Working with photography made repeated exposure to these possibilities unavoidable – they became a part of his work much as one might pick up and use turns of phrase without realizing it. Thus Rosso’s commitment to making established a compelling dialogue between media, through which he not only represented sculptures in photography, but increasingly represented photographs in sculpture.

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Author details

Taylor, Damian