Professor of Art History, Gettysburg College
Biancone: History of a Remarkable Nickname and the Changing Narratives of Florentine Public Sculpture, Mock Heroics and Political Discourse from the 16th-19th Centuries
In the heart of Florence in the Piazza della Signoria stands Bartolomeo Ammannati’s colossal Neptune statue, centerpiece of an elaborate fountain (1560-1574). Unlike its celebrated neighbor Michelangelo’s David, the statue became renowned as a disappointment, a sentiment distilled perfectly in a popular nickname for the statue, “Biancone”, or “Giant White One”. This talk will explore how Florentine audiences poked fun at works of colossal size, looking into the origin of this and other similar epithets. Dubbed as coming “from the people”, the history of “Biancone” from the Renaissance to the 19th century can tell us much about the changing views of public works and populist discourse. Ammannati’s statue, originally a court commission employing the Olympian god of the sea to celebrate the rulership of the Medici Grandukes, would feature as a bumbling giant in a mock heroic epic, a magician in a showdown against a witch and a political mouthpiece satirizing the state of affairs during the Risorgimento when Florence served as the capital of a newly-united Italy.
Assistant Professor for Architectural History and Theory
University of Pennsylvania
Memories of the Resistance: Women, Dissent, and the Forgotten Work of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, 1938-1945
Today, Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000) is widely recognized as one of the pioneering female figures in modern design, who worked internationally in the 1920s and 1930s in Vienna, Frankfurt, the Soviet Union and Turkey. Yet, these decades of professional work were marked by a drastic break between 1940 and 1945, when Schütte-Lihotzky was interned for her participation in communist resistance against the Nazi regime. Her recollections from the years of internment became the subject of her 1984 German-language book Erinnerungen aus dem Widerstand (Memories of the Resistance). In the lecture, Memories of the Resistance, Sophie Hochhäusl reflects on the importance of Schütte-Lihotzky’s book as a critical historical document that contributes to still much needed spatial histories of resistance in the 1940s. She elucidates that the book provides a glimpse into dissidence as lived practiced. She also comments on why Schütte-Lihotzky’s activism led to the ostracization of the important modernist in the postwar era whose work, including the struggle for spaces of collective memory in Austria, remains largely forgotten.
Into Painting, Into Performance: Sources and References
Visual artist Jonathan Vandyke will discuss the commingling of painting and performance in his art practice of the past decade, with a special emphasis on the art historical and cultural references that inform the creation of his works.
Department of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College
The Drug of Reminding: Tracing the Limits of Memory in the Archival Practice of Ellie Ga
This talk will focus on the artistic practice of Ellie Ga, a contemporary artist working across a variety of media that includes installation, photography, performance, sculpture and video. From her residency at the Explorer’s Club in New York where she developed a lecture that detailed the things that had disappeared from the club’s archive to her tenure as an artist in residence on an arctic naval expedition, Ga has developed a research and travel-intensive approach that integrates a wide range of narrative genres and visual strategies, from travelogue to documentary, photographs to video and slide installations. Focusing primarily on her most recent body of work, a sustained engagement with the archaeological ruins and archival sites of the Pharos of Alexandria, this talk will address the ways in which Ga’s practice interrogates the aesthetic, discursive, geographical and scientific systems of knowledge that sustain our constructions of personal and shared history.
John and Jill Freidenrich Director
Cantor Arts Center
Firing Dürer’s Cannon
My talk will address Albrecht Dürer’s 1518 etching Landscape with Cannon as an exploration of religious reform, Ottoman aggression, and etching. In the year following the publication of Martin Luther’s 1517 Ninety-Five Theses, Dürer deployed the caustic print technique in one of his most enigmatic compositions to critique canon law in support of Luther.
Las Mujeres de Abril and the April 1965 U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic
This project began with a profound curiosity about my parents’ experience while living under Trujillo’s dictatorship and a desire to understand how Trujillo’s assassination, and the revolution that followed, became catalysts for our migration to NYC. Creating these images was a way to reclaim this history , and the collection of 65 images are formatted as a “family” album that embraces and documents the events that led to April 1965. The full size portraits depict Las Mujeres de Abril, a group of women who took up arms to fight for freedom becoming a significant part of the resistance during the American invasion of Santo Domingo.
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History
Department Chair, Harvard University
Art and Literature in Timurid Herat: Baysunghur’s Manuscripts
Baysunghur (d. 1433), son of ruler Shahrukh and grandson of Timur, has long been regarded as one of the most important princely bibliophiles of the Timurid dynasty, and yet his personal library of books has long deserved critical reevaluation. The lecture reexamines concepts of creative agency—the balance between patron and artists—, the physical and aesthetic reformation of the imperial book, and the effects of the total coordination of the elements of the book comprising binding, calligraphy, illumination, and painting. Why did near contemporaries and subsequent generations regard Baysunghur, and his books, as the benchmark of cultural achievement?
Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the Black Atlantic, Oberlin College
“Questions of Value and Bondage at a Hotel in London, March 1865”
In March of 1865, Dante Gabriel Rossetti encountered a child in the doorway of a London hotel. One year later, Rossetti presented that child as an androgynous, bejeweled, and servile rendering of blackness in his celebrated painting, “The Beloved”. This talk explores the implications of that encounter, and that rendering, for debates about the representation of enslavement and blackness in Rossetti’s own social circle, the wider Atlantic world in the 1860s, and among those who work with and against the troubled archive of Atlantic slavery.
“The Rules of the Game (of Art)”
Professor and Chair of the Fine Arts Department
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Ken Lum will speak about what is for him the meaning of art, which he defines as living the life of the artist. While such a definition may sound romantic, living the life of an artist means a life where everything is relevant, from beautiful experiences to painful ones. It also means a life of profound misgivings about the art system in which art must operate. Lum will speak about how his mixed feelings about art have led to extensive travel and major curatorial and writerly initiatives.