Call for Papers | Beyond the Singular Artist, RSA 2019, Toronto

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on July 25, 2018

There are, of course, lots of RSA sessions that include an end date of 1700 (a larger list of sessions is available here); Sarah Grandin, however, notes that she and her co-chair Victoria Addona would particularly welcome late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century proposals addressing artistic collaboration.

Beyond the Singular Artist: A Critical Assessment of Collaboration, ca. 1400–1700
The Renaissance Society of America
Sheraton Centre, Toronto, 17–19 March 2019

Proposals due by 5 August 2018

Sponsored by the American Academy in Rome — Society of Fellows

This panel takes collaboration as a widespread condition of artistic practice and as a necessary strategy in the face of large, complex, and ambitious projects that exceeded the physical and technical capacities of a single individual. Early modern art history has often cast contemporary artists as antagonists, recounting the friendly competition that stimulated artistic virtuosity, invention, and ‘progress’, alongside anecdotes about more violent and secretive enmities on shared work sites. In a break from this discourse, we seek to challenge notions of the autonomous artist by shifting our focus away from a discussion of independent genius and towards the reality of interdependent and collective practices. Understanding the exigencies of works that employed multiple hands also allows us to be critical of and sensitive to the limits of looking for unilateral artistic identity in the resultant work, when authorship is so often a plural affair. This is not to suggest that collaboration did not bring about its own challenges: issues of translation and coordination could lead all too easily to stalls in process or even visible fissures in the resultant work.

We welcome papers that do not merely describe instances of artists working together but that seek to engage critically with the concepts and practices of artistic collaboration. How was labor divided or delegated in collaborative projects? Did collaboration foster the development of artistic specialization or attract generalists? How do multiple hands manage to create artistic unity? How do we understand the split between design and technical execution, and, relatedly, the translation between media (i.e. from painting to print, from cartoons to tapestries)? Is the visible coordination of accomplished artists and diverse resources ever a desirable effect, as may perhaps be the case in multimedia works such as the retablo, the grotto, and ephemeral architecture? Are conventional discourses on artistic media such as the paragone still useful as we think about collaboration and its products, or do collaborative practices challenge the limits of theory?

Topics might address:
• collaboration between a diverse array of actors, from artists to architects, artisans, apprentices, printers, laborers, furnishers of tools and materials, patrons, foremen, and site managers
• strategies of transfer and translation across surfaces and scales that facilitate intermedial and transmedial projects
• papers that result from the collaborations of practitioners and researchers across specialties (i.e. restoration, conservation, and practicing artists) and disciplines (i.e. history of art and history of science)
• the aesthetic particularities of works of art that result from collaboration
• the development of a critical vocabulary of terms to assess artistic collaboration

Please submit proposals, which should include a paper title (15-word max), abstract (150-word max), and a brief CV (300-word max) to Victoria Addona (vaddona@fas.harvard.edu) and Sarah Grandin (sgrandin@fas.harvard.edu) no later than August 5, 2018.

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