Medardo Rosso: Pioneer of Modern Sculpture
Gloria Moure (Ed), with contributions by Umberto Boccioni, Dirk Braeckman, Johan de Smet
MSK Gent & Polígrafa, 2020
The Italian artist Medardo Rosso (1858-1928) is undoubtedly the great pioneer of modern sculpture. Despite the historiographic blindness that persisted for decades, its importance has been recognized by the artists of its time and by the leading figures of 20th century art. Degas, Boccioni (who made him a benchmark for Futurist sculpture), Brancusi, Giacometti, Fontana, Anselmo, Thomas Schütte and Juan Muñoz have recognized the lasting importance of his legacy.
Through a wide selection of his sculptures, almost all of his photographs and drawings, his writings and letters, this comprehensive monograph highlights the complexity of Rosso’s creative process and, especially, his exploration of the limits of form and materiality.
Rosso was not a sculptor in the traditional sense. Avoiding wood and stone, he worked with ductile and fragile materials such as plaster and wax, which lent themselves to the representation of ephemeral effects and subtle forms. He produced multiple versions of his works, varying the forms and materials. For Rosso, sculpture and the display of sculpture were inextricably linked, and photography, which came to constitute the ultimate movement from the viewer’s point of view, enabled him to reach his ultimate goal: to achieve an insubstantial form.
As Luciano Fabro observed, in an illuminating interview in April 1996, ‘[until then] sculpture had limited itself to removing or adding matter to a nucleus; Rosso goes further by proposing that when the gaze passes over something, it removes or adds matter, it removes and adds subject “.