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Sculptures

BRONZE REPRODUCTIONS OR ORIGINAL WORKS ?

Cet article se compose de 9 pages.
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Meanwhile, the organisers of the Brancusi retrospective for the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Philadelphia Museum of Art were not allowed access to the sculptor's archive reportedly because of the fact that they have refused to endorse the posthumous bronzes being turned out by the people who control the rights to the archive. All the more, these posthumous casts look like giant paperweights but museums in Europe and in Japan have bought such reproductions despite the fact that Brancusi never intended his sculptures to be cast after his death.

Sculptors like Henry Moore or Barbara Hepworth, aware of the perils of posthumous casts, left specific instructions either forbidding or limiting such practice. Hepworth, who died in 1975, stated in her will that her studio was to be closed and work, even on editions already in progress was to cease.

Posthumous casts have multiplied as the demand for works by important artists has dramatically increased. The appearance of these pieces on the market has caused confusion among experts as well as novices regarding their value, both aesthetic and economic.

In addition, it has been a common practice to produce replicas of many 19th Century animal sculptures by Barye, Frémiet, Mène, Dubucand or others since the early 1900s. Usually reproduction rights in France run over 70 years after the death of an artist and hundreds of pieces, in fact mere reproductions were made throughout the 20th Century. As all these artists died before 1900, there were no problems regarding rights for the foundries involved in the production of these copies that flooded the art market. Worse, during the 1980s, when most French foundries had gone bankrupt, such reproductions were made in Asia or in countries where manufacturing costs were low and the quality of these was dramatically bad if not terrible especially regarding patina and chiselling. Those bronze pieces made for example in Thailand or Taiwan had in fact little to do with original works.

Regarding aesthetic quality, Rodin's casts, for example, were made for years by the artisan who had worked under the artist's instructions but the bronzes made by other founders are further removed from Rodin himself and it is questionable whether these casts give a true idea of Rodin's artistic personality.

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