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Though the word “symposium” comes from Plato’s ideal of a drinking party held to facilitate philosophical discussion, most of us are familiar with its modern usage, meaning a conference or meeting. Few people, however, know about the sculpture symposium movement, started by Karl Prantl in Austria in 1959.

In the Cold War environment in Europe, it was difficult for sculptors to make ambitious works and to meet each other to discuss ideas with their peers. So Prantl invited sculptors from both East and West to leave their studios for several weeks to work in a mutually supportive camp in a disused stone quarry in St. Margarethan, Austria. Participating artists took the idea back to their home countries, and international sculpture symposiums have been taking place all over the world ever since.

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