PRINT November 2011


Rachel Harrison, Alexander the Great, 2007, mixed media, 87 x 91 x 40".

THE RESURGENCE OF THE HUMAN FIGURE in much recent sculpture cannot be separated from a renewed attention to the idea of the subject. Although it is so commonplace as to go unnoticed, the idea of the artwork as a kind of subject in itself was one of the epochal inventions of modernity, crystallized in the radical shift in aesthetic theory in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At that juncture, it was specifically tied to painting: For Hegel, sculpture was able to “create a unity between body and spirit,” but painting alone allowed in a more abstract “principle of subjectivity.” In recent years, scholars have extended this notion to make room for considerations of both the changing contemporary status of the subject and challenges to the notion of medium. Art historian Michael Lüthy and philosopher Christoph Menke, for example, argue that all artworks function as “figures of

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