Touch and the Enjoyment of Sculpture: Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance Statuettes

January 21, 2012–April 15, 2012

Fourth Floor Drawing Gallery
Free Entrance

This groundbreaking focus show explores the implications of tactile perception for enjoying sculpture by melding the research of a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist studying how the brain reacts to tactile stimuli and a Walters curator interested in the increased appreciation of tactility as an aspect of European Renaissance art—a period marked by a new availability of small “collectibles” meant to be held. Did artists anticipate a reaction to tactile stimulus in shaping sculpture, specifically statuettes of female nudes? Visitors can hold and register their evaluations of replicas of “appealing” statuettes, as well as variants assumed to be unappealing. Displays illustrate the Renaissance attitudes towards touch, the sensation of touch being stimulated without actual contact and the neural processing and perception of objects during touch.

Braille and large print text has been provided in the gallery by the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.