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The Sculptor at Work: Sculpture, Techniques and Meanings


Admission requirements



In Dutch art academies, nowadays, the education of sculptors is mainly orientated to develop their conceptual skills and abilities. Technical education, and questions concerning sculptural material use (even in a historic sense) is seen as a practical nuisance, rather than the everyday reality with which a sculptor copes. On the other hand, the importance of a sculpture in academic art history is most always formulated in terms of meaning, and not (or maybe occasionally) in terms of material virtuosity or of physical reality. Therefore, it would follow that the concept and meaning is much more important than sculptural techniques and coarse stone, concrete, metal or clay. Of course, the prime function of art is to see and criticize visual culture, to adapt and challenge art history, and to speak to the contemporary audience. Or isn’t it? How do sculptors develop their ideas? How do they see their relevance for contemporary society? How do they try to mix authenticity with the boundaries of a commission situation? How is technical ability an influence in the development of sculpture? Is technical ability always connected to materials, or do sculptors need to be project managers in their own sculptural production? How do objects in the museum work their way into the minds of academic researchers?
In this course, all students develop case studies, addressing these kinds of questions.
Literature study is combined with lectures by invited sculptors; students should expect to present their case in class (e.q. in a Pecha Kucha presentation); to prepare a lecture discussion in connection with visiting artists; to write some text and to discuss each other’s work. A prepared visit to an exhibition or an artist’s studio is included in the course. A lot of discussion is encouraged. The focus is on modern sculpture, with occasional older examples.

Course objectives


  • to know developments, in contemporary examples as well as historical examples, in the use of materials connected with the meaning of a sculpture;

  • to know the sculptor’s views on material and meaning;

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an autonomous artist;

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an artist working on a commissioned monumental / public work;

  • to know the tension between authenticity, concept, material, technique, which translates in a sculpture and its form.


  • to present your case, or part of your case in a pecha kucha presentation;

  • to present your case in a traditional presentation, or discussion, in class;

  • to present your case standing next to the actual object (exhibition, museum Beelden aan Zee);

  • to prepare questions and a discussion in class, and to do the actual discussion itself with a visiting sculptor;

  • to write decent critical or historical texts;


The timetable is available on the Master Arts and Culture website

The seminar meetings will take place at the museum. More information will be made available through blackboard.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Course Load

  • Lectures / classes (26 hrs)

  • Study of compulsory literature (70 hrs)

  • Assignment(s): 3 papers (100 hrs)

  • Other components: 3 small presentations (84 hrs)

Assessment method


  • Three papers, 1000 words each (40%)

  • Three small presentations (10%)

  • Literature exam (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Only for relevant component:

  • Writing a paper (50%)

  • Literature exam (50%)


Blackboard is used for this course.

  • communication

  • assignments

  • more information

Reading list

  • H. W. Janson, 19th century Sculpture, London 1985.

  • R. Wittkower, Sculpture, London 1977. (please look closer at Chapter 5 Michelangelo; Chapter 10 Falconet, Winckelmann, Canova, Schadow; Chapter 11 The Nineteenth Century Rodin, Hildebrand; Chapter 12 The Twentieth Century.)

  • P. Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1940, Oxford 1999. Chapter 3. Direct expression through the Material, Chapter 7. The figurative ideal.

  • A. Causey, Sculpture since 1945, Oxford 1998. Chapter 4. Modernism and minimalism, Chapter 5. Anti-Form, Chapter 6. Natural Materials Chapter 8. Objects and figures.

  • M. Wagner, Das Material der Kunst, München 2001. IV Das Gedächtnis des Materials; VI Vom Ewigen zum Flüchtigen – arme Materialien and flexibele Stoffe.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


drs. Dick (B.J.M.) van Broekhuizen (PhD Candidate 19th century sculpture, Head of Collections and Publications Sculptuur Instituut / museum Beelden aan Zee)
Official course information is communicated in Blackboard.

Prof. dr. Jan Teeuwisse
Administrations Office Huizinga


Literature paper

Discussion of the compulsory literature, in 1000 words, on one of these three subjects:
1. The development of polishing to a rough sculptural skin in Michelangelo’s work, and its difference in meaning;
2. The development of use and meaning in nineteenth century plaster;
3. The development and use of stone in modern sculpture, and its meaning.

History paper

Choose one of these ten subjects, and write 1000 words on:
1. Bernini as a clay sculptor;
2. Neo-Classicism and Canova, and Winckelmann, and their love of white marble;
3. Rodin’s impressionism and his use of clay;
4. Objets trouvées as materials, and a 20th century development.
5. Welding, Gonzalez & Picasso;
6. Henry Moore and his materials;
7. Sculpture made of food;
8. Claes Oldenburghs use of soft materials;
9. Tony Cragg and his conceptual use of materials;
10. Bertozzi & Casoni and sculptural ceramics;
11. Sound as a material;

Contemporary Artist Paper

  1. 1000 words
    1. One of the visiting artists
    2. Or another artist, please discuss with prof. Teeuwisse