Macsotay, T., The Profession of Sculpture in the Paris Académie: [Review]

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he shows how the Academie promoted the idea of sociability rather than the individual, while encouraging the construction of a moral self; and he demonstrates that the conception and production of sculptural works were not judged exclusively in either the private (academic) arena or the public one (the Salon), and so on. Step by step, however, Macsotay weaves an intricate, yet coherent picture of the delicate contemporary balance between tradition and innovation (or, to use Macsotay's own terms, emulation and alternation), between the individual and the collective, and between artists and beholders. Macsotay's important contribution to the field culminates in the presentation of the Academie as a site of discourse between established and emerging artists - a discourse that was defined as a constitutive part of the production process. Significantly, this discourse positioned the established artists as critical viewers and highlighted the communicative dimension of the encounter between artwork (and by extension its maker) and viewer. While other scholars, such as Jacques de Caso and Malcolm Baker, have already illuminated the communicative character of sculpture during the eighteenth century, Macsotay's study recognizes the Academie as the place - and academicism as the method - that shaped and propagated this vision of sculpture.The Profession of Sculpture is divided into six chapters. In the first chapter Macsotay introduces the problematic of the concept of originality in an eighteenth-century context through the case of Etienne-Maurice Falconet's reception piece, Milon, which was initially rejected by the Academie due to its resemblance to Puget's work on the same subject. In discussing the long process of Falconet's making of his morceau, Macsotay deconstructs our modern understanding of the term emulation, and re-presents it as tied to the nobility's idea of collectivity. Relating artistic practices to social terms paves the way for Macsotay to view the Academie as a site of sociability, in which reception pieces are the result of a negotiation between the artist and the established members of the institution. Chapter 2 continues to consider how the Academie was constructed as a social and political body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-436
Number of pages3
JournalSculpture Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2015


  • Profession of sculpture in the Paris Académie, The (Book)
  • Macsotay, Thomas
  • Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (France)
  • Nonfiction


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