CFP: Essays for a Collected Volume on Solo Shows

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 30, 2009

I am putting together a volume of essays devoted to the subject of single-artist, thematic, and single-object exhibitions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, organized and displayed outside of academic jurisdiction. It is tentatively called Alternative Venues. Essays will explore the functions, meanings, organizational and visual structures, and/or successes/failures of artists’ solo shows (e.g., Courbet’s Pavilion of Realism), exhibitions of thematically unified work (e.g., Fuseli’s Milton Gallery), and displays of single art objects (e.g., David’s Intervention of the Sabine Women). It is my hope that the collection as a whole will highlight the innovation and modernity of such exhibitions, while perhaps setting their motivations and functions into relief against similar displays in the contemporary art world. Essays dealing with landmark exhibitions in the first half of the twentieth century will also be considered for inclusion.

Publishing interest has already been expressed by a very reputable press, famed for such volumes of art historical essays. Please send a CV and 3-5 page abstract by October 15, 2009 to Andrew Graciano, Department of Art, University of South Carolina, 1615 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29208 USA or by email at graciano@sc.edu.

-Andrew Graciano

Tiepolo in Motion at the Kimbell

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 29, 2009

Director Philip Haas (Angels & Insects, Blood Oranges, and Up at the Villa) partnered with the Kimbell for the current series of installations. From the Kimbell’s website:

Butchers, Dragons, Gods, & Skeletons: Film Installations by Philip Haas Inspired by the Works in the Collection

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, 18 July – 25 October 2009


"Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons: Film Installations by Philip Haas" with an essay by A. S. Byatt, $24.95

Commissioned by the Kimbell, Philip Haas’s film installations interpret and elaborate upon selected works in the Museum’s permanent collection:

  • Douris, Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior), ca. 480 BCE
  • Arhat Taming the Dragon, Yuan dynasty, early fourteenth century
  • Annibale Carracci, The Butcher’s Shop, 1580s
  • Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Apollo and the Continents, ca. 1739
  • James Ensor, Skeletons Warming Themselves, 1889.

Though based on deep research into the original artists and cultures, Haas’s films are poetic and sensuous in approach rather than factual like a documentary. Between seven and twenty minutes in length and running continuously, they are projected on screens of various unconventional formats and configurations. All are accompanied by original music, and several appear in elaborate architectural and sculptural sets, further immersing the viewer in the experience. The installations complement a full display of the Kimbell’s permanent collection, each occupying a space near the work to which it relates.

apollo-and-the-continentstiepolo-mercuryGiovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Apollo and the Continents is probably a sketch for a large fresco ceiling at the Palazzo Clerici in Milan; the ceiling was commissioned by Antonio Giorgio Clerici to celebrate his impending marriage. In the most elaborate and technically challenging of his installations, Haas combines filmed images projected on both walls and ceiling with real architectural elements, responding in his own terms to the spectacular, playful illusionism of a Tiepolo ceiling: “My intention has been to create the film installation as if it were designed and directed by Tiepolo himself, translating painterly trompe-l’oeil into cinematic visual effect.” On one of the walls we see Tiepolo with a young assistant in the studio. Occasionally he looks across to other walls, where models are posing for him.

tiepolo-mandolin-playerThe models are played by the actresses Anna Walton — as a reclining Venus — and Rachael Stirling. Above, we see classical figure groups come to life as Tiepolo has visions, piece by piece, of a grand ceiling decoration in splendidly theatrical style. It is an assembly of the divinely beautiful, the strong, and the statuesque: Venus and Mars, Jupiter and Hebe, Juno, Ceres, river gods, and a host of numerous personages from classical myth and allegory. Finally Apollo the sun god appears, hovering in the center of the whole, breathtaking ensemble that has come together over our heads. Meanwhile Tiepolo has been working on a portrait of a betrothed couple. The climax of the piece is an apotheosis in which, through the power of the artist’s imagination, the couple become classical figures themselves and ascend into the heavens.

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The Butcher’s Shop appeared at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York in 2008.

A six-minute video clip with Malcolm Warner and Philip Haas summarizing the project is available via YouTube (posted by WRR101FM). It supplies a useful sense of the project, though it, unfortunately, doesn’t address the Tiepolo installation.

N.B. — One of the models for Apollo and the Continents, the actor Rachael Stirling — perhaps best known for her role in Tipping the Velvet — holds, incidentally, a B.A. in art history from the University of Edinburgh. Proof of the utility of the major for undergraduates? Comments are especially welcome from anyone who’s seen the installation at the Kimbell.

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CFP: Raynal Symposium, Summer 2010

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 28, 2009

Raynal’s Histoire philosophique des deux Indes: Colonial Writing, Cultural Exchange and Social Networks in the Age of the Enlightenment
Newnham College, Cambridge, 1-3 July 2010

The year 2009 will see the publication of  the first volumes of the new critical edition of Raynal’s Histoire philosophique des deux Indes by the Centre international d’étude du XVIIIe siècle of Ferney-Voltaire — the first volume of the text and the Tableaux, atlas et cartes.  For eighteenth-century scholars this is a landmark event. After a long period of neglect, there has been a remarkable explosion of interest in Raynal, and the new edition — the first complete one since 1820 — will be welcomed by researchers across a wide range of disciplines working in the fields of colonial history, Enlightenment studies, the history of ideas, literary history and book history.

The nineteen books of the Histoire, which chart a philosophical and political history of European colonial trade and settlements, were hugely influential.  Translated into many other European languages, they helped popularise and shape anti-colonial and abolitionist discourse even while they served to inform colonial administrators and to reflect on intra-European rivalries. Substantially revised and augmented over a period of ten years, Raynal’s project was a vast undertaking in which he drew on multiple resources, placing the Histoire at the centre of a complex and extensive network of writers, politicians, administrators, scientists and other thinkers on the one hand, and, on the other, at the confluence of countless texts concerning the history of European colonies and travel writing, written over several centuries in different times and spaces, and from often very different professional and ideological positions.

Focussing on the twin concepts of exchange and networks, understood from textual, cultural and social perspectives, this conference seeks to explore Raynal’s Histoire within the multiple circuits of communication that simultaneously shape the colonial world, its modes of sociability and its literature. The conference aims to bring current areas of  investigation from various disciplines across the Humanities and Social Sciences into dialogue: historical and sociological approaches to sociability and its role in knowledge formation; recent work in English and Modern Languages on what have variously been described as textual migrations and intercultural transfer; book history and bibliography and the material dimensions of the text’s production and reception; work from literary, musical and art history on collaborative enterprises such as ateliers and editorial and authorial teams and their role in producing hybrid and collective works. The twin concepts of exchange and networks, as well as being central to the concerns of Raynal’s Histoire philosophique des deux Indes, are matters of contemporary interest in all of these disciplines. (more…)

Delany Exhibition Is Here!

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 25, 2009

The highly anticipated Delany show opened earlier this week. Mark Laird (Harvard University) kicked things off on Wednesday with a talk on Delany as “A Lady of Singular Ingenuity.” Alicia Weisberg-Roberts will speak on October 7 (see below for programming details). The following description is drawn from the press release from the Yale Center for British Art:

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Mary Delany: Mrs. Delany and Her Circle
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 24 September 2009 — 3 January 2010

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, 19 February — 1 May 2010

Curated by Alicia Weisberg-Roberts and Mark Laird


Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 416 pages, ISBN-10: 030014279X

At the age of seventy-two, Mary Delany, née Mary Granville (1700–1788), a botanical artist, woman of fashion, and commentator on life and society in eighteenth-century England and Ireland, embarked on a series of one thousand botanical collages, or “paper mosaics.” These were the crowning achievement of a life defined by creative accomplishment. The delicate hand-cut floral designs, made by a method of Mrs. Delany’s own invention, rival the finest botanical works of her time.

An ambitious exhibition, Mrs. Delany and her Circle, at the Yale Center for British Art, is the first to survey the full range of Mary Delany’s creative endeavors, revealing the complexity of her engagement with natural science, art, and design. Her prolific craft activities served to cement bonds of friendship and allowed her to negotiate the interlinked artistic, aristocratic, and scientific networks that defined her social world. A range of approximately 130 objects, including drawings, collages, embroidered textiles, shells, botanical specimens, and manuscripts related to her interest in landscape gardening, will reflect the variety of her activities. The exhibition will also feature a floral display inspired by Mrs. Delany’s designs, as well as a site-specific installation by London-based artist Jane Wildgoose.


Mrs. Delany’s tools from needlework pocket-book, given by Queen Charlotte to Mrs. Delany, 1781, satin, colored silks, and enamelled gold (The Royal Collection)

While Mrs. Delany is best known for her botanical collages, she created bold new garden designs, decorated her home and garden with shell decoupage, fashioned paper silhouettes, and was an accomplished embroiderer who produced elaborate designs for dresses and furnishings. The exhibition will reunite a significant number of Mrs. Delany’s textiles. Among her most extraordinary designs was a court dress embroidered with a cascade of naturalistic flowers on black satin, ca. 1739–40. This garment was disassembled and preserved by Mrs. Delany’s heirs and represents a marriage of art and nature that vividly foreshadows her later accomplishments. Pieces of the dress, reunited here for the first time, will be accompanied by didactic material that allows visitors to understand the garment as a whole and explains the equally interesting story of its survival. Also on view will be embroideries by Mrs. Delany and her circle that demonstrate the importance of the art of the needle to eighteenth-century female society.

Mary Delany, Pancratium maritinum, 1778, collage of colored papers, with bodycolor and watercolor on black ink background, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, © Trustees of the British Museum

Mary Delany, Pancratium maritinum, 1778, collage of colored papers, with bodycolor and watercolor on black ink background, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, © Trustees of the British Museum

The exhibition will show thirty of Mrs. Delany’s “paper mosaics,” generously lent by the British Museum, which houses nearly one thousand of her works. Unlike most botanical illustrations, these collages were created from hundreds of tiny pieces of cut paper. Horace Walpole called them “precision and truth unparalleled,” and Sir Joshua Reynolds admired their “perfection and outline, delicacy of cutting, accuracy of shading and perspective, and harmony and brilliance of color” (Ruth Hayden, Mrs. Delany: Her Life and Her Flowers, London: British Museum Press 2000).

Through comparison with the works of her contemporaries the exhibition will explore the context of Mrs. Delany’s striking collages and the relationship between her close attention to the natural world and the visual culture of natural history. Mrs. Delany and her Circle will feature works by professional botanical artists, including Georg Dionysius Ehret and Barbara Regina Dietzsch, as well as amateur botanical artists such as Mary Capel Forbes. Also on view will be objects representing the wider world of eighteenth-century collecting and classifying, ranging from mineralogy to conchology. Through drawings, maps, and topographical paintings, the exhibition will evoke the design and experience of gardens Mrs. Delany knew well, including those at Kew and Bulstrode, the remarkable estate of Margaret Cavendish Holles Harley Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715–1785), with whom Mrs. Delany lived and worked. The Duchess was one of the most important collectors of naturalia of the eighteenth century. Their friendship was one of the defining relationships of Mary Delany’s life.

Mrs. Delany and her Circle has been organized by the Yale Center for British Art and Sir John Soane’s Museum, London (where it will be on display from 18 February — 1 May 2010). The curators are Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, Assistant Curator of 18th- and 19th-Century Art, Walters Art Museum, and Mark Laird, Senior Lecturer, Department of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design. Elisabeth Fairman, Senior Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center, has served as the organizing curator for Jane Wildgoose’s installation, Promiscuous Assemblage. New Haven is the only North American venue for the exhibition.

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Tuesday, September 29, 12:30 pm

Mary Delany: A Woman Begins Her Life’s Work at the Age of 72

A thirty-minute gallery talk led by Molly Peacock, poet and non-fiction author.

Wednesday, September 30, 5:30 pm

Musical Tastes in Eighteenth-Century London as Seen by Mrs. Mary Delany, Horace Walpole, and Their Friends

Lecture and performance by Nicholas McGegan, renowned baroque music specialist and conductor.

Tuesday, October 6, 12:30 pm

Mrs. Delany’s Flowers: Entrance

A thirty-minute gallery talk led by Jason Siebenmorgen, landscape architect

Wednesday, October 7, 5:30 pm

‘She who bless’d the friend and grac’d the page’: Friendship and Self-fashioning in Mrs. Delany’s Circle

Lecture by Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, Assistant Curator of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century Art, The Walters Art Museum

Painted Saints from New Mexico

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 25, 2009

From ArtDaily.org, 4 July 2009:

A Century of Retablos: The Janis and Dennis Lyon Collection of New Mexican Santos, 1780–1880

Josyln Art Museum, Omaha, NE, 5 July 5 — 4 October 2009


Catalogue by Charles Carrillo and Thomas Steele (Hudson Hills, 2007), $60, ISBN:978-1555952730

A rich tradition of religious painting flourished in New Mexico during the Spanish colonial period prior to 1912. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, self-taught painters in New Mexican villages established workshops to produce devotional images called retablos. These colorful narrative panels consisted of images of Christian saints painted on wood, earning for their creators the title of santeros — or saint makers. These small paintings were sold to devout believers who displayed them in home altars to honor their patron saints. Virtually hundreds of saints were represented, each invoked to remedy a different situation.

The exhibition A Century of Retablos: The Janis and Dennis Lyon Collection of New Mexican Santos, 1780–1880 at the Joslyn Art Museum, July 5 through October 4, introduces retablos to museum audiences and teaches about the methods of creating these beautiful panel paintings.

A Century of Retablos is organized by the Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue have been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts through its ‘American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius’ program.

A Century of Retablos features 93 wooden panels, all created during the colonial period, from one of the finest private collections of retablos in the world (click here for an exhibition checklist). The Janis and Dennis Lyon collection encompasses the breadth and depth of the retablo tradition. This exhibition provides the first opportunity for the Lyon collection of retablos to be available for public viewing.

This exhibition is groundbreaking in its approach. Previously unconsidered questions and the biographies of various santeros are explored, as well as the relationships among artists, workshops, and patrons. The research by Charles Carrillo, Ph.D., and Father Thomas Steele, S. J., is the basis of this effort. Carrillo is an accomplished anthropologist who is well respected in his field and has been widely published over the past 20 years. He is also a leading contemporary santero. Father Steele is a highly regarded author and social historian who studies Hispanic life in early New Mexico. Together, their research sheds new light on the social history and artistic significance of colonial retablos, examining not only the physical and aesthetic nature of the decorative panels, but also the ways these objects were used in churches and as private devotional objects. (more…)

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Research at the Clark

Posted in opportunities by Editor on September 24, 2009

Clark Fellowships 2010–2011

Applications Due by November 2

200758073358arc_phtThe Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, a center for research and higher education as well as a public art museum, offers fellowships for national and international scholars, critics, and museum professionals who are engaged in projects with a critical commitment to research in the theory, history, and interpretation of art and visual culture. The institute offers between fifteen and twenty Clark Fellowships each year, ranging in duration from six weeks to ten months. National and international scholars, critics, and museum professionals are welcome to propose projects that extend and enhance the understanding of the visual arts and their role in culture. Stipends are generous and are dependent on salary and sabbatical replacement needs. Housing in the Institute’s Scholars’ Residence, located across the street from the Clark, is also provided. The deadline for applications is November 2, 2009. Successful candidates will be notified in early 2010.

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The list for the 2009-2010 fellows includes information on two eighteenth-century topics:

Chistopher Heuer, Matthew Jackson, and Andrew Perchuk are pursuing a joint book project, “Literal Speeds,” which will explore the underpinnings and development of art history as a discipline in light of its inherent ligatures with late-eighteenth-century cultural developments.

Etienne Jollet, Professor of early modern European art at the Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, is at work on a project addressing sculpture, particularly the support structures and plinths. Jollet’s publications include Chardin (1998), Jean et François Clouet (1997), Figures de la Pesanteur: Newton, Fragonard et les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette (1998), and La Nature Morte ou la place des choses (2007).

CFP: Travel Conference, ca. 1750-1850

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 23, 2009

Correspondence: Travel, Writing, and Literatures of Exploration, c. 1750-c. 1850
University of Edinburgh and National Library of Scotland, 7-10 April 2010

Proposals Due by October 1

The University of Edinburgh (Institute of Geography and Centre for the History of the Book), in collaboration with the National Library of Scotland, is pleased to announce Correspondence: travel, writing, and literatures of exploration, c. 1750–c.1850–a four-day, interdisciplinary conference concerned with travel, travel writing, and the associated literatures of exploration. (more…)

Assessing the Glow of ‘Blake’ and ‘Brilliant Women’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on September 22, 2009

Recent pieces from CAA.reviews address exhibition publications on William Blake at the Petit Palais in Paris and bluestockings at the National Portrait Gallery in London:

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Catherine de Bourgoing, ed., William Blake: Le Génie visionnaire du romantisme anglais, exhibition catalogue (Paris: Petit Palais and Musée de la Vie Romantique, 2009), 256 pages, €39 (9782759600779)

Exhibition schedule: Petit Palais and Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris, April 2–June 28, 2009

Meredith Davis writes that

2242-2274-largeThis overdue exhibition was expansive and thorough, if not inspirational; it was beautifully installed in the Petit Palais’s well-appointed special exhibition rooms, but the roughly thematic groupings were at times opaque or barely articulated. Arguably, Blake is as much a poet as a visual artist, and with a museum show such as this, one inevitably favors the visual dimension of his art over the literary. Typically problematic in this sense are his “Illuminated Books.” Among his most important works, these hand-printed manuscripts are miniscule in some cases; many, including his Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789–94), were certainly not meant to be presented as individual framed sheets of paper, but rather as objects to be cradled in one’s hands or lap, like a book of hours or diary. . . .

Despite such inherent difficulties, the exhibition succeeded in creating several intimate spaces and in offering a comprehensive presentation of Blake’s range. Blake’s long absence from France was remedied, and French audiences did get a broad view of Blake’s world. However, it is not certain that they came away from the exhibition with anything like a clear vision of his art (to the extent that such a thing is possible). The exhibition did not begin with an introductory wall text as one typically finds in a similar exhibition in the United States. Instead viewers were launched straight into a series of modestly scaled rooms, arranged around major works, themes, or historical benchmarks. In some ways the exhibition seemed to take a cue from Blake himself. . . .

Michael Phillips’s excellent catalogue essay, “William Blake Graveur Visionnaire,” provides some much-needed and detailed information on Blake’s printing processes. Phillips offers a lucid discussion of Blake’s technical innovations in printmaking, as well as discusses the symbolic significance the medium took on for Blake, pointing out how the artist drew parallels, for example, between the corrosive action of the acid on the plate (in etching) and a similar corrosion of the soul. The catalogue’s overall format mirrors the exhibition itself in its avoidance of linear narrative, choosing again a thematic and multi-vocal presentation of the artist. It does not provide a roadmap to the exhibition in any sense, but is a stand-alone volume with high ambitions. There are, in all, a total of thirty essays in the volume, some of them as short as five hundred words, all of them in French. While some essays are informative, others seem to end abruptly, or to focus on esoteric topics. Nonetheless, this approach clearly demonstrates the many dimensions of Blake’s work, as well as the range of current approaches to it.

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Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Pelz, Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008). 160 pages; 84 color illustrations; 64 b/w illustrations, cloth $50 (9780300141030)

Exhibition schedule: National Portrait Gallery, London, March 13–June 15, 2008

Wendy Wassyng Roworth writes that

9780300141030YBrilliant Women is not a catalogue; however, all the works in the exhibition are splendidly illustrated, many in high-quality color or as full-page reproductions. Portraits of the bluestockings, their associates, and followers, along with engravings, drawings, caricatures, and Wedgwood plaques provide an abundance of visual material not usually available in studies of literary figures. Intended primarily for general readers and exhibition visitors, Brilliant Women does not break major new ground but offers an excellent overview of the bluestocking phenomenon. However, the authors’ focus on visual representations of learned women in portraits, book illustrations, and other pictorial forms and their analyses of how and why bluestockings were depicted by both admirers and critics makes this study useful for scholars of eighteenth-century art, literature, and history. This consideration of visual imagery contributes to a larger understanding of the vital role women played in the eighteenth-century republic of letters through their images as well as their works in ways that textual accounts alone cannot achieve. Whether disparaged and mocked in caricature, elevated as allegorical personifications, or portrayed as graceful ladies in fashionable dress, these images call attention to the complex identities of intellectually ambitious women.

Back from Summer Break (Fall officially begins tomorrow)

Posted in resources by Editor on September 21, 2009

The Art History Newsletter resumed publication on September 8. Editor Jonathan Lackman is a Ph.D. candidate at NYU working on nineteenth-century art criticism in France. He’s written for Slate, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. Contributors include Daniel Belasco, Anne Byrd, Allyson Drucker, Ross Finocchio, and Benjamin Lima. Over the past two weeks, postings have addressed Vincent Scully’s decision not to return to the classroom at Yale (he actually retired in 1991 but has continued teaching until now), recent additions to the Dictionary of Art Historians, tenure decisions at Harvard, and the upcoming renovations at the Musée d’Orsay (starting in November the museum will be closed for a year).

Burney and ECCO available through EMOB

Posted in resources by Editor on September 20, 2009

As noted here on August 27, the Burney Collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century newspapers is available on a free trial basis through Early Modern Online Bibliography until the end of October. Anna Battagelli usefully points out that Gale’s Eighteenth-Century Collection Online (ECCO) is similarly available (also until October 30). Along with simply making these extraordinary resources available for the next few weeks, EMOB hopes the increased access will present opportunities for a more widespread and rigorous discussion of these tools. Art historians are encouraged to chime in!

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