Call for Papers | The Medium and the Message: European Architecture

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on February 4, 2016

From the University of Birmingham:

The Medium and the Message: Re-evaluating Form and
Meaning in European Architecture, 1400–1950

Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, 1–2 July 2016

Proposals due by 1 April 2016

All buildings—whether polite, vernacular or somewhere in between—were initially informed by some kind of presiding idea or set of ideas. Some of these ideas presumed an audience (and are therefore part of the building’s rhetoric and essential to its intended ‘meaning’), while others did not (in being part, for example, of a production process, or allied with social and cultural contexts, and no more than that). All such ideas should concern the architectural historian, but the most engaging and historically resonant may well belong to the first category and also be ones that can be inferred and recovered from the buildings themselves. The architectural historian may also profit from a keener understanding of how the ideas initially underpinning a building may, in time, have become modified, or even eclipsed by associations of very different kinds.

The conference will investigate the ways in which ideas are conveyed by the physical and visual medium of architectural form. It will include case studies which will move us beyond explanations of architecture that borrow too liberally from literature and theory, and will thereby deepen our understanding both of the medium of architecture and of the construction and operation of architectural ‘meaning’. Moreover, by establishing or re-exploring the intellectual foundations sustaining the designs of certain key buildings, and by examining the ways in which they informed the physical realities of the buildings themselves, we hope to reinvigorate and enrich our understanding of significant moments in European architectural history.

We welcome papers that directly explore the relationship between message and medium through detailed historical case studies which directly address the agency of architecture itself in the conveying of meaning.  Papers could tackle, for example, Filippo Brunelleschi’s innovative ‘Renaissance’ style of architecture; Inigo Jones’s Italianate classicism; Francesco Borromini’s departures from classical proprieties; complex stereotomy in French architecture of the early modern period; the new language and meanings of English Palladianism; the rarefied classicism of John Soane or Karl Friedrich Schinkel; form and association in the concrete architecture of Le Corbusier. In general, therefore, they will examine architecture’s expressive potential, through such topics as the materiality of buildings, the visual logic and implications of built form or the evocation (or not) of the historical past, and in relation to particular people, periods and places.

Papers should be of 20 minutes in length (followed by 5 or 10 minutes of questions). If you wish to apply, please write to Professor Anthony Geraghty (anthony.geraghty@york.ac.uk with the subject line Medium and Message), giving the subject and a brief synopsis (250 words) of your proposed topic. Please also specify your title and full name and your institutional affiliation (if any). The deadline for the submission of proposals is 1 April 2016, and we aim to have a decision on the acceptance of papers within 4 weeks of that date.

David Hemsoll (University of Birmingham)
Anthony Geraghty (University of York)

Exhibition | The Lavish Prince Regent

Posted in exhibitions by Caitlin Smits on February 4, 2016

From the MFAH:

The Lavish Prince Regent
Rienzi, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 5 March — 30 July 2016


Henry Bone, King George IV, 1821, enamel on gold, 9k rose gold, embossed metallic foil, and glass (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Rienzi Collection)

Prior to his accession to the British throne in 1821, King George IV served as Prince Regent of the nation during the mental illness and incapacitation of his father, George III.  Before and during his regency, the prince led an extravagant lifestyle that held great sway over the fashions of the day, which saw him advocating new forms of leisure, style, and taste.

During this period, he built the famous Royal Pavilion in Brighton, which was an Orientalist fantasy in architecture. As with the pavilion, the ‘Regency Style’ that the prince created was a mixture of the Antique and the exotic, the gilded and the decorated—and with an interest in elegant innovation. This exhibition presents a survey of this most sumptuous of historical styles

Exhibition | À la Mode: Fashioning European Silver

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 4, 2016


Paul Crespin, Epergne, 1742–43, sterling silver c
(Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

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From the MFAH:

À la Mode: Fashioning European Silver, 16801825
Rienzi, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 10 October 2015 — 7 February 2016

For centuries, silver was one of the most popular expressions of style and taste, with its universal appeal and powerful hold on the imagination making it the necessary luxury. Silver was designed for almost every occasion, from everyday drinking and dining to commemorating christenings and weddings.

À la Mode draws from the rich holdings of the MFAH, Rienzi, and two private collections to explore the social life of silver. The exhibition shows how prevailing attitudes and changes in fashion determined the form and function of objects, and how people thought about and lived with silver.

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