The Self as Subject and Sculpture

Robb, Charles (2008) The Self as Subject and Sculpture. Masters by Research thesis, Monash University.



This paper analyses and contextualises the artist’s exploration of self-portraiture through the sculptural bust format.

Conventionally, the portrait bust epitomises an antiquated view of the human subject as fixed, finite and knowable. The classicistic allusion of the form seems the perfect embodiment of a pre-modern and hopelessly idealised view of subjectivity and its capacity to be represented. This paper will show how, despite these impressions, the portrait bust is in fact a highly volatile sculptural form in which presence and absence are brought into question. When used as a vehicle for self-portraiture the bust yields a spectrum of instability, both literal and metaphoric, that calls into question the clarity of notions of subject and object and challenges the ideas of authority and representation more broadly.

By providing an historical overview of the role of the portrait bust, this paper will map the field of content inherent to the portrait bust and discuss its application in contemporary self-portraiture. As the work of Mike Parr, Janine Antoni and Marc Quinn demonstrates, the classical certainty that permeates the bust format can indeed heighten the capacity of the form to represent uncertainty: an ambiguity that makes it a highly potent form for sustained studio investigation and experimentation.

This paper will provide an overview of this experimental scope and application, by discussing the author’s process of sculptural self-portraiture in relation to aspects of ‘likeness’, expression, truncation and reproduction that occur in the form.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16903
Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Self-portraiture, Portraiture in sculpture, Sculpture, Australian, Sculptors, Australia, Sculpture, British, 19th century, Sculpture, 21st century, Sculpture, 20th century, Parr, Mike, 1945-, Antoni, Janine, 1964-, Quinn, Marc, 1964-, Robb, Charles, 1971-
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500) > Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting) (190502)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Monash University
Deposited On: 15 Dec 2008 01:37
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 13:14

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