Taking Shape

Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts

Drawing upon the rich collections of Temple Newsam House in West Yorkshire and the J Paul Getty Museum in California, Taking Shape focuses on the inventive imagination of Baroque and Rococo that dominated sculpture and the decorative arts in the 17th and 18th centuries and presents it in a new light.

Including a diverse range of objects – richly-carved console tables and candle-stands, a spectacular mirror and clock, statuettes, bronzes and busts, etchings and engravings – the works feature all manner of fantastic motifs.

Angels and deities, foliage and flowers metamorphose into animals and mythological figures, abstract scrolls and invented ornaments.

Normally seen in the context of the period room, their presentation within a contemporary gallery space offers the viewer the opportunity to focus on the objects themselves.

Ultimately, the exhibition suggests that sculpture can be understood not only in terms of autonomous figural form, but as operating more prolifically as a quality that informs spatial practices as a whole, thereby embracing furniture and decorative art as innately sculptural modes of expression.

Published alongside an exhibition at The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds and The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2008 – 2009.

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