Auguste Rodin willed the contents of his studio, including the right to cast his sculptures posthumously, to the French state, which has established precise guidelines for how these works should be produced and distributed to cultural institutions around the world. Liz Glynn’s “The Myth of Singularity,” a series of eight bronzes directly related to Rodin’s masterpieces, flouts these administrative efforts, identifying the sanctioned methods of reproduction not as some managerial burden, but as the starting point for new creative acts.
The bronzes on view here originated in a 2013 performance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for which Glynn worked with museum conservators and eight other sculptors to “collage” plaster casts taken from parts of LACMA’s Rodin works, splicing together faces and body parts and toying with different scales. The performative origin of the sculptures is evident in the traces of cloth and plaster that mark the rough surfaces of the final bronzes. Still, the blunt evidence of the actual work of sculpting does not efface the human form. One version of the great Balzac appears like a mischievous child in a bathrobe. In another piece, parts of the writer’s hulking form are merged with that of a Calais Burgher. In some ways Glynn’s projects represents a radical extension of Rodin’s own approach; historians have documented his penchant for cannibalizing and recombining elements of his own work. But whereas Rodin sought to liberate his striking figures from the literary and religious narratives that had previously determined the content of sculpture, Glynn inscribes these works within a narrative of their own making, so that the encounter with the bronzes is inseparable from the process of their production. —William S. Smith
Pictured: View of Liz Glynn’s exhibition, 2017, at Paula Cooper, New York. Photo Steven Probert.
For her first solo presentation at a New York institution, Liz Glynn works off of accounts of the 1532 kidnapping of Inca emperor Atahualpa, led by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Memorializing the destruction of the Inca Empire at the hands of the Spanish, Glynn remakes SculptureCenter’s rear gallery into a 17-by-22-foot stucco re-creation of Atahualpa’s ransom room—said to have been filled to the height of the emperor’s outstretched arm with gold and silver. These metals were eventually melted down to ingots and shipped back to Spain following the emperor’s execution. Glynn’s replica imagines the lost gold objects in red-wax casts, a material used for lost-wax casting in the production of bronze. Glynn will continue to fill the space with cast objects collected throughout the city during the course of the installation, to be melted down into ingots for display during the exhibition’s final week.