Musée Bourdelle, Paris, 31 March — 12 July 2015
The articulated human figure made of wax or wood has been a common tool in artistic practice since the 16th century. Its mobile limbs enable the artist to study anatomical proportion, fix a pose at will, and perfect the depiction of drapery and clothing. Over the course of the 19th century, the mannequin gradually emerged from the studio to become the artist’s subject, at first humorously, then in more complicated ways, playing on the unnerving psychological presence of a figure that was realistic, yet unreal—lifelike, yet lifeless.
Silent Partners locates the artist’s mannequin within the context of an expanding universe of effigies, avatars, dolls, and shop window dummies. Generously illustrated, this book features works by such artists as Poussin, Gainsborough, Degas, Courbet, Cézanne, Kokoschka, Dalí, Man Ray, and others; the astute, perceptive text examines their range of responses to the uncanny and highly suggestive potential of the mannequin.