Enfilade

Display | Eye Contact: Portraits in the Global Age

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 10, 2018

From the Thoma Foundation:

Eye Contact: Portraits in the Global Age
Thoma Foundation, Art House, Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 10 August 2018

Robert Wilson, ‘Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière’, 2013, high-definition video on plasma monitor.

For the first time, Art House will exhibit works from the Thoma Foundation’s diverse collections of Spanish colonial painting and digital art in tandem. Opening August 10, Eye Contact approaches portraiture as a sociological art. While portraits are created to commemorate individual identity, they are also reflections of the economic, political, and cultural forces around them, such as world trade, colonialism, and advances in technology.

The three artworks on view span more than two centuries, from 1776 to 2015, with the recent acquisition Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere, 2013 as a centerpiece. Robert Wilson’s video portrait depicts the subject in the guise of an early 19th-century French aristocrat. It is a powerful and ironic meditation on the ability of portraits to denote immortality. Styled in accordance with the famous 1806 painting of Rivière in the Louvre by neoclassical artist Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres, Lady Gaga inhabits the persona of the original sitter, an elegant teenager who died within a year of the work’s completion. Standing in front of a computer-generated landscape, Lady Gaga holds the foreknowledge of Caroline Rivière’s tragic demise, her Gothic pose, intense eye contact, and expression conveying her awareness that even fame fades with time. Wilson is best known for his spectacular, modernist operas, among them the 1976 production Einstein on the Beach, and has been described by The New York Times as “America’s—or even the world’s—foremost avant-garde ‘theater artist.’”

Unlike Lady Gaga and the aristocrat Caroline Rivière, little is known about the woman depicted in Andrés Solano’s Portrait of Ana Josepha de Castañeda y de la Requere from 1776. The inscription on her portrait notes that she was the wife of Juan Lázaro Merino y Zaldo, most likely a sugar planter in the town of Trinidad in central Cuba. While Josepha is forthright and relatively unadorned, the extravagance of her picture frame reflects her position as a wealthy peninsular, a Spanish-born Spaniard residing in the New World or the Spanish East Indies. The gilt rococo embellishments of the frame contrast with Josepha’s frank appearance. Her bloodline is denoted in the painting’s inscription, documenting her caste at a time when cultures, identities, religions, and ideas were mixing in the Spanish colonial world.

Daniel Rozin’s Selfish Gene Mirror, 2015, meanwhile, is a digital mirror in which the viewer temporarily becomes the portrait’s subject. Via a small camera and Rozin’s customized ‘Darwinian’ algorithm, lines of pixels replicate the behavior of human genes, scrambling to assemble a lifelike visage in real time through a process of replication and propagation. Each ‘gene’ is programmed to compete for its ongoing existence. The viewer is reinterpreted within the work of art in a transitory way; once he or she walks away, the pixels die off. The memorializing impulse of portraiture, already imperfect, is abandoned.

About the Collection

Spanning the global history of computer art of the past fifty years, the Foundation’s digital art collection includes some of the first algorithmic plotter drawings on paper, software-driven, generative, and custom-coded artworks, interactive works based on real-time gaming platforms, internet-based or networked art, and works that utilize LED and LCD displays. With more than 130 works from the 17th to 19th centuries, the Spanish Colonial art collection includes religious paintings and portraits from the Viceroyalty of Peru and the Kingdom of Nueva Granada, as well as a selection of portraits fro.m the Spanish Caribbean.

Symposium | Perceiving Processions

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 10, 2018

Next month at The Courtauld:

Perceiving Processions: Eighth Early Modern Postgraduate Symposium
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 24 November 2018

Organised by Talitha Schepers and Alice Zamboni

Procession of Süleyman I, from ‘Customs and Fashions of the Turks’, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, woodcut print, 30 × 39 cm, 1553 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, RP-P-OB-2304L).

In recent years, a renewed interest in early modern rituals, festivals, and performances has prompted a reconsideration of ceremonious processions with a particular focus on their impact on social, cultural, artistic, and political structures and practices. Simultaneously, scholars have increasingly acknowledged the mobility of early modern artists across geographical, religious, and cultural borders. Although processions were witnessed by natives and visitors alike and were therefore prime instances of cross-cultural encounters, their depictions by artists both local and foreign remain a lesser-studied body of visual material. This symposium proposes to explore the visual representations of processions that took place within cross-cultural encounters both within and outside of Europe.

A procession was an act of movement that was particularly charged with meaning; an ambulatory mode of celebration, it had a global resonance in the early modern period. Processionals impressed foreign dignitaries, established modes of rule, communicated traditions, and negotiated power balances and were highly sensory occasions—as such they lent themselves readily to visual representation and were enthusiastically recorded in literature. Pageantries, military processions, and Joyous Entries (Blijde Inkomsten) were recorded in a variety of media, as exemplified by the festival books celebrating the ephemeral constructions orchestrated for Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand’s arrival in Antwerp (1635) or the eighteenth-century paintings depicting Venice’s dazzling boat parades in honour of foreign dignitaries. Furthermore, ceremonial processions conceived for births, weddings, circumcision feasts, and funerals occasioned visual representations such as the colourful Mughal miniature Wedding Procession of Dara Shikoh in Presence of Shah Jahan (1740). In addition, the notion of procession can be expanded to encompass various expressions of mobility that could be understood and were often depicted as a procession. Both Jan van Scorel’s frieze-like painting of the knightly brotherhood commemorating their Holy Land pilgrimage (c. 1530) and the depiction of ambassadors travelling with their retinue to foreign courts and cities can be perceived as a form of procession. Thus, the structure of a procession was increasingly adopted in the Early Modern period to depict moments of exchange and motion propelled by the quest for knowledge, as much as diplomatic concerns and religious piety. Well-known examples include The Voyage to Calicut tapestry series (1504) as well as the highly detailed printed frieze of a merchant endeavour by Hans Burgkmair (The King of Cochin, 1508).

Free admission, all welcome. Advance booking requested.

P R O G R A M M E

9.00  Registration

9.30  Welcome

9.45  Session 1: Royal Encounters
• Bianca Schor (Independent Scholar, London), Albert Eckhout’s Tapestry Le Roi Porté in Malta: A Diplomatic Encounter
• Travis Seifman (University of California), Displaying Foreignness for Prestige: Luchuan Embassy Processions in Edo, 1644–1850
• Matthew Gin (Harvard University), Rites of Passage: Re-Tracing Princess Maria Teresa Rafaela’s Entry into France (1745)

11.00  Coffee break

11.35  Session 2: Beyond the Documentary
• Gemma Cornetti (The Warburg Institute, University of London), Stefano della Bella and the Triumphal Entry of the Polish Ambassador in Rome (1633)
• Sabrina Lind (Ghent University), A Book without Readers? Or the Audience and the Importance of the Festival Book(s) of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp in 1635
• Gaylen Vankan (University of Liège), Imagine Orient: A Military Procession by Jan Swart van Groningen

12.50  Lunch break

13.50  Session 3: Performing Processions
• Laila Dandachi (University of Vienna), ‘The Triumphal Exotic from the East’: The Display of Diplomatic Performances of Early Modern Islamic Empires Shaped by the Iconic and Emblematic Nature of Islamic Military Arms and Armour
• Borja Franco Llopis and Francisco Orts-Ruiz (UNED, Madrid), Muslims and Moriscos in the Processions and Royal Entries in Iberia (14–16th Centuries): Beyond Their Visual Representation
• Esther Pramschiefer (University of Cologne), Travelling Theatres in Germany: Audiences and Actors Proceeding outwards of Walled Cities

15.05  Tea and coffee break

15.40  Session 4: Religious Processions
• Ashley Patton (University of Minnesota), St Rose of Lima: Identity, Performance, and Surrogacy
• Massoumeh Assemi (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Muharram Processions

16.30  Short break

16.40  Session 5: Itinerant Processions
• Raoul DuBois (University of Zurich), Temporality and Mediality of the Processions in Travelogues of the 15th and 16th Centuries
• Nicholas Mazer Crummey (Independent Scholar, Budapest), Observing a City in Motion: An Englishman’s Account of the 1675 Ottoman Imperial Circumcision Festival in Edirne

17.30  Closing remarks

18.00  Reception