On 17 & 18 May a symposium will take place at the Courtauld Institute entitled 'Temporary Sculpture: A Durable Art Form?’ The production of temporary displays of sculpture and architecture, made of perishable materials, designed as part of royal, religious or state performances — whether elite or popular — have always existed.

The symposium will set the installation art of today in a historical context. Papers will be approximately 30 minutes in length, with time for discussion. With the participation of both young and distinguished scholars of art history, music, architecture and conservation, we hope this investigation will encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-period debate and analysis. Subjects include Medieval flying sculpture; nuns and festival apparati; sugar sculpture; flowers; triumphal arches and entries; the vagaries of fame and the lasting appeal of wax museums; Brancusi and the portable object; Picasso and rubbish; and the rise in value of the photograph in the era of the installation. The symposium will close with a panel discussion between artists, historians and conservators on the preservation of the ephemeral.

A display of exceptional designs for ephemeral structures drawn from the Prints and Drawings Collection, including beautiful examples of Festival Books from the Rare Books Collection, will accompany the symposium.

For further details, please email alexandra.gerstein@courtauld.ac.uk.