Call for Papers: ‘Art Against the Wall’ at the Courtauld

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 17, 2011

Art Against the Wall
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 19 November 2011

Organized by Thomas Balfe and Jocelyn Anderson

Anon. Fireplace with sculpture of birds, Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, 19th century. Source: Conway Library, The Courtauld Institute of Art

Art against the Wall, the third symposium of The Courtauld’s Early Modern department, will provide an occasion for established and emerging scholars to present and discuss their research together. This one-day symposium will explore the relationship between walls and art in early modern visual culture. During the period 1550-1850 the interplay between work and wall became increasingly complex as art objects began to pull away from the walls which had previously defined them. The enduring association between artistic skill and craft production meant that many art works were often still regarded as elements in overarching decorative schemes; paintings installed in eighteenth-century English domestic interiors, for example, continue to be described as part of the ornamentation, even as the furniture, of a room. Conversely, walls now had the power to redefine art works, giving them a new meaning through a new context; thus, in late sixteenth-century debates on the status of the religious image, walls – which map the division between sacred and secular space – take on crucial importance. Yet the wall could also become art, as the numerous examples of trompe l’oeil wall illustration to be found in seventeenth-century architecture and garden design suggest. Taking as its point of departure Derrida’s insight that there can be no clear separation of ergon (work) from parergon (not-the-work, ‘wall’), the symposium will attempt to investigate the rich questions raised by the phenomenon of art against the wall. We welcome contributions relating to paintings, sculptures, decorative schemes, architecture and works on paper. Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to: (more…)

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