View of “Lily Cox-Richard,” 2019, Center: She-Wolf, 2019. On floor: Ramp (detail), 2019.

View of “Lily Cox-Richard,” 2019, Center: She-Wolf, 2019. On floor: Ramp (detail), 2019.

Lily Cox-Richard

Blanton Museum of Art

Once ubiquitous in museums, plaster casts have largely been relegated to storage rooms (or, as was the case with the plaster-cast collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to the auction-house floor). The two interrelated causes might be identified as a shift in values around originality and righteous challenges to the notion of a stable canon of Western art history. Some institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, have kept their plaster-cast collections on display. Growing up, I often visited what was then Austin’s Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery (a scion of a railroad magnate, Huntington famously declared, “Wherever I put my foot down, a museum springs up”). I can recall certain works with clarity—Ellsworth Kelly’s High Yellow, 1960; Gyula Kosice’s Hidroluz (Hydrolight), 1975; and

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