In July 2019 at the Blanton Museum of Art, artist Lily Cox-Richard opened her installation She-Wolf + Lower Figs., featuring a polychrome replica of the Capitoline Wolf sculpture made from digital imaging of the original, as well as several of the Battle Casts wrapped in colorful tulle. Cox-Richard explains that this exhibit was not only an opportunity to challenge the widespread myth of white antiquity, but an opportunity to address questions on the very notions of preference or “taste” — especially of Western taste — in the study of the “classical” legacy. The exhibition received significant media and institutional attention, and the artist has opened new doors for the reuse and adaptation of the casts.
In the creation of her exhibit, Cox-Richard crafted an armature of the Capitoline Wolf that she completed with a technicolor marbled finish by using the ancient Roman scagliola technique. Much like the digital models of the Battle Casts presented by this project, Cox-Richard’s She-Wolf mold was made from photographs and 3D scans of the original sculpture. The She-Wolf stands her ground atop Ramp, a sidewalk sculpture Cox-Richard crafted with fiber-reinforced concrete, aggregate materials, foam, and pigment that served as a barrier in the exhibition space forcing viewers to circle the entire gallery rather than step across it. Ramp also mimics the platform displaying several of the Battle Casts in the Osborne Seminar Room at the Blanton; and the exposed corners and torqued position of each dark slab bring to mind the alternative conversations—such as the prevalence of color in Classical artworks—that have only just begun to challenge the smooth, linear path of time-honored historical narratives. Further advancing her challenges to white antiquity and taste, Cox-Richard draped the Goddesses of the East Pediment and the Apollo Belvedere casts in multi-colored tulle, which is a translucent material that is highly sensitive to light and movement, in order to engage with ways of seeing, the impermanence of applied color, and reception. Recontextualizing her artistic interventions to Classical artworks in a museum setting, Cox-Richard’s exhibit makes a statement about how audiences might view representations of the Classical canon and the messages they historically convey.
Although the photogrammetical modeling method used by Blast from the Casts was only moderately successful for the tulle-draped casts given the material’s sensitivity to light and movement, it was still possible to capture impressionistic models which preserve Cox-Richard's intervention with the casts as part of their rich history, exemplify her interest in the transformation of the casts, and allow for continued public engagement with the conversations sparked by the exhibit. Blasts from the Casts was inspired in part by Cox-Richard's exhibit and, with her support, seeks to advance the dialogue she started between old and new 3D technologies through a widely-accessible digital platform, while clearly addressing the contexts of antiquity lost across space and time.
She-Wolf + Lower Figs