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Henry Moore Institute

Towards a New Laocoon

Towards a New Laocoon

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The antique group depicting the Trojan priest Laocoon and his two sons being attacked by snakes was uncovered in Rome in 1506 and almost immediately put on show in the Vatican, quickly becoming one of the most famous sculptures in the Western world.

Since that date the sculpture has exerted a strong fascination for artists and writers. Juxtaposing three historic works with more recent sculptures by Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon and Eduardo Paolozzi, this exhibition at Henry Moore Institute explored how the legacy of Laocoon has been re-examined over time.

With an introduction by Penelope Curtis (Curator of the Henry Moore Institute), the catalogue unpacks the Laocoon’s complex history – which includes questions about its origins, its rediscovery and restoration, brief relocation to Paris, and its literary and philosophical appeal – in a comprehensive series of texts:

Legacies of Laocoon: Introduction to the exhibition
Stephen Feeke

I: Whose Laocoon? The origins of a universal image
Jens Daehner

II: Laocoon’s Snakes: The reception of the group in Renaissance Italy
Madeleine Viljoen

III: The ‘French Laocoon’: An impossible restoration
Brigitte Bourgeois

IV: Sculpting pain and Poetry: Laocoon among the Germans
Ian Balfour

V: Eighteenth-century Laocoons: Cultural critiques and copies in Britain
Viccy Coltman

Paolozzi and the Laocoon Group
Daniel Herrmann

Cragg and the Flaming Line
Jon Wood (Research Curator, the Henry Moore Institute)

Deacon’s Snakes and Ladders
Penelope Curtis

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