An interview with Guilhem Scherf before the Salon du Dessin

Every year, the Societe du Salon du Dessin organizes a colloquium on drawings. The ones to be held in 2008 and 2009 will be devoted to those by sculptors. We met Guilhem Scherf, head curator for the Department of Sculptures at the Musee du Louvre, who is the scientific organizer for these meetings.

local/cache-vignettes/L218xH290/Scherf-83438.jpgWhat is the thread linking these colloquia ?

The idea, which was suggested by Pierre Rosenberg, is to explore the characteristics of drawings by sculptors. Is there something specific about a sculptor’s drawing, that identifies it as such ? The question is a complex one : preliminary drawings for a sculpture need to be studied separately from those that have nothing to do with a sculptural project. Many sculptors drew works that were not meant to be produced as sculptures, for example Vasse, Boichot, Gois and Rodin…There are also artists who never sculpted but who drew and painted sculptures, as an integral part of their paintings : one might mention Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Boilly…Quite often someone will show me a drawing for a sculpture that was never executed by a sculptor. On the other hand, drawing, which is the basis for any formal academic training, has helped many sculptors in associating their art to different disciplines : architecture, silversmith work…The two colloquia will examine all of these cases.

It will be developed over two years. Will there be specific themes each time ?

We refused to fall into the easy solution of separating the two years chronologically, by treating, for example, old master drawings the first year and in 2009 the XIXth and XXth centuries. Let’s not forget that this colloquium is first and foremost for visitors to the Salon du Dessin and that it should address everyone’s interests at the same time.

How did you choose the speakers ?

They come from different backgrounds. These colloquia confirm the fact that the Semaine du Dessin brings all drawing lovers together. The speakers are independent art historians, such as Jennifer Montagu of the Warburg Institute and John Kenworthy Browne who will speak respectively on Maini and Nollekens ; others come from museums like Genevieve Bresc-Bautier (Louvre), Edouard Papet (Orsay), Brigitte Leal (Musee d’Art moderne), Bernhard Maaz (Nationalgalerie in Berlin) and from universities (Paul Joannides, Peter Furhing, Erika Naginski) ; the INHA is represented by Antoinette Le Normand-Romain ; two young doctoral candidates will do papers on Bouchardon. As you can see, it’s a large panel of people.

Will the proceedings be published, as in the past ?

Of course. I would like to insist on the very real financial support that the Societe du Salon du Dessin has provided on this occasion. They will be published very quickly since the volume for this year’s talks will appear in December. I am in charge and Cordelia Hattori will be coordinating the publication. As a matter of fact, the volume for last year’s colloquium just came out. What is the program for 2009 ?

It is still too early to say but there will be more studies devoted to Italian artists.

In concluding, it seems that a project, which consisted in developing an index of drawings by sculptors in provincial museums and publishing it in the volume of proceedings has been dropped.

Yes, we thought of doing it but this would require a significant amount of work for the museums, in the provinces especially, as they do not always have enough time. If it’s simply to publish those that are already known, it’s not as interesting. An index would mean identifying that a drawing is by a sculptor if it is anonymous, a hard thing to do. And for the other drawings, one has to be sure that a specific artist was a sculptor, not obvious when the person is not well known. The process of checking the XIXth century would be extremely time consuming. Anything is possible, of course, but for the moment and within the scope of the Rencontres du Salon du Dessin, the project has been abandoned.

Interviewed by Didier Rykner

, samedi 5 avril 2008

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