Call for Papers | Portraiture as Interaction

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 3, 2014

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Portraiture as Interaction: The Spaces and Interfaces of the British Portrait
The Huntington, San Marino, California, 11–12 December 2015

Proposals due by 7 November 2014

A symposium jointly organized by the Yale Center for British Art, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Huntington

This symposium has been inspired by the important collections of British portraits at the Huntington Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, and by an upsurge of scholarly interest in the interactive nature of portraiture—both in its intrinsic character and as a curatorial construct.

Portraiture implies an interaction between the sitter and the spectator. It often rehearses an interaction between two or more protagonists and regularly focuses on the interaction between the person(s) represented and his, her, or their surroundings. Portraits—of husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends, and colleagues—are often depicted by artists and arranged by curators so as to interact with each other in meaningful ways. As they are created, and once they are completed, portraits (and the figures they represent) interact with their settings: with the studio, the exhibition space, the domestic interior, the public building or square; and with the objects, people, and spaces found in those settings. The same portrait, or portraits of the same sitter, can also find themselves interacting with each other across different media—paint, print, sculpture, and more.

Furthermore, curators are continually thinking about the ways in which the portraits they display—and the individuals these pictures portray—will relate with each other across and around a gallery. The Thornton Portrait Gallery at the Huntington and the galleries at the Yale Center for British Art exemplify portraiture’s continuing forms of interaction: implied and actual, pictorial and physical, and formal and figural.

This two-day international symposium will use the rich collections at the Center and the Huntington Art Gallery and the different concepts of interaction outlined above as points of departure and return, in order to open up new approaches to the history and workings of British portraiture up to the present. Participants will be encouraged to offer original and innovative readings of individual portraits, groups of portraits, portrait galleries, and portraiture as a genre. Talks that respond explicitly to works in the collections of the Huntington and the Center are particularly encouraged.

We invite proposals for thirty-five to forty-minute papers on this theme from scholars working in any discipline. Cross-disciplinary and comparative studies are particularly welcome. Please e-mail abstracts of no more than three hundred words, along with a short CV, to ycba.research@yale.edu. The deadline for proposals is November 7, 2014.

Travel and accommodations will be provided for speakers arriving from outside the Los Angeles area, and meals will be provided for all.

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