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Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body

Syson, Luke, Sheena Wagstaff, Emerson Bowyer, and Brinda Kumar with contributions by Bharti Kher, Jeff Koons, Alison Saar, Hillel Schwartz, Marina Warner, and Fred Wilson
312 pages
284 illustrations
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Since before the myth of Pygmalion bringing a statue to life through desire, artists have used sculpture to explore the physical materiality of the body. This groundbreaking volume examines key sculptural works from thirteenth-century Europe to the global present, revealing new insights into the strategies artists deploy to blur the distinction between art and life. Three-dimensional renderings of the human figure are presented here in numerous manifestations, created by artists ranging from Donatello and Edgar Degas to Kiki Smith and Jeff Koons. Featuring works created in media both traditional and unexpected—such as glass, leather, and blood—Like Life presents sculpture by turns conventional and shocking, including effigies, dolls, mannequins, automata, waxworks, and anatomical models. Texts by curators and cultural historians as well as contemporary artists complete this provocative exploration of realistic representations of the human body.

Divina proportione, Leonardo da Vinci  Italian, Book with woodcut illustrations
Multiple artists/makers
June 1, 1509
Marble statue of a kouros (youth), Marble, Naxian, Greek, Attic
Greek, Attic
ca. 590–580 BCE
Macarena of Miracles, Audrey Flack  American, Oil on canvas
Mangaaka Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi), Kongo artist and nganga, Yombe group, Wood, iron, resin, ceramic, plant fiber, textile, pigment, Kongo
Second half of the 19th century
The Music Lesson, Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory  British, Soft-paste porcelain, British, Chelsea
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1765
Marble head of a young woman from a funerary statue, Marble, Greek, Attic
Greek, Attic
late 4th century BCE
Denis Diderot (1713–1784), Jean Antoine Houdon  French, Marble, French, Paris
Fisher Boy, Hiram Powers  American, Marble, American
1841–44; carved 1857
Pair of eyes, Bronze, marble, frit, quartz, obsidian, Greek
5th century BCE or later
Mummy Mask, Cartonnage, plaster, paint, plant fibers
A.D. 60–70
Marble statue of Hermes, Polykleitos, Marble, Pentellic, Roman
1st or 2nd century CE
Bacchus, Domenico Poggini  Italian, Marble, Italian, Florence
California, Hiram Powers  American, Marble, American
1850–55, carved 1858
Irene Millet, Antoine-Emile Bourdelle  French, Original plaster, tinted and polychromed, French, Paris
Mask of Anna Pavlova, Malvina Cornell Hoffman  American, Wax, tinted
Reliquary Bust of Saint Juliana, Giovanni di Bartolo  Italian, Copper, gilding, gesso, and tempera paint, Italian
ca. 1376
The Whistlers, Tip Toland  American, Stoneware, paint, pastel, synthetic hair
Bernice, John Ahearn  American, Painted plaster
Meyer Schapiro, George Segal  American, Painted plaster
Jewish Woman of Algiers, Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier  French, Algerian onyx-marble, bronze, gilt bronze, enamel, and amethyst eyes; white marble socle, French, Paris
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Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body [Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 21 March-22 July 2018]. 2018. New York New Haven: The Metropolitan museum of art Distributed by Yale university press.