Conference | Body and Power: The Body in Political Art

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 4, 2021

From ArtHist.net:

Corps et pouvoir: le corps dans l’art politique des temps modernes
Body and Power: The Body in Political Art in Early Modern Times
Online and In-person, Hôtel d’Assézat, Toulouse, 6–8 October 2021

During the Renaissance, it became common to see bodies—both male and female—transformed and strategically exploited through artworks. Real or mythical, aged or juvenile, often bearers of a complex imaginary, they were conceived and perceived as metaphors and regularly used as propaganda devices. In early modern times, the representation of the body had a fundamental place in the process of exaltation and legitimation of the elite.

‘Body and Power’ tends to emancipate from the figure of the prince—although central but not exclusive. Rulers relied on the idealisation of their own person to reinforce their pre-eminence. However, if their bodies were staged and glorified within their portraits—as an essential element to reassure or impress—they could also be juxtaposed with others. The bodies of these secondary figures, whether enemies or allies, could be used to intensify the message, either within or outside of their representations. Thus, all bodies could be evoked: those of the elites as well as those of auxiliaries, intended to support the idea of power from a semantic point of view.

Elements that make this power concrete, visible, and palpable will also be examined. Apparent objects covered the bodies to transcend them, while in response, bodies in turn covered the objects, all of which articulated a substantial discourse that must be deciphered. These same bodies adorned the space of palaces and other places where authority was exercised. Within both perennial and ephemeral decorations, they gave rhythm to the facades through anthropomorphic orders, populated niches, adorned the porticoes of triumphal entrances, inhabited fountains, staircases, fireplaces, etc. Here again, each of these expressions must give rise to a reflection on its context of creation and exhibition, as well as its intentions.

The programme revolves around the inherent relationship between the body and the polysemy of the terms ‘power’ and ‘potency’, referring to ability as well as strength and authority. Showing a body is an effective way to subjugate and convince. The posture, the gestures, the musculature attributed to it, the sensuality, the grace, the elegance that emerge from it, contribute to translate ideas. The body is both subordinated and esteemed by and for power and, like a mirror effect, it is also through its aesthetic, emotional, and symbolic power that it honours and valorises the powerful.

If for a long time the biblical reference served as a pretext for the exhibition of these bodies, the reappropriation of ancient culture brought them out of the private and sacred spheres and into the public space. This development reflects a widespread understanding of the hermeneutic power, the expressive and persuasive range of the body, whose evocative power is developed in relation to the close relationship between physical impression and psychological aspect. These compositions, full of vitality, affect, and dynamism, conferred an emotional and sensory force on ambivalent and sometimes violent subjects that was indispensable to the process of political seduction. It is then a question of assessing the place of the senses—optical and haptic—in political iconography, both formally and semiotically.

In short, the ambition of these two days is to explore issues related to the body as a bearer of political discourse by bringing together artworks created from the Renaissance to the dawn of the 19th century. By bringing together young and experienced researchers, both French and foreign, this event will allow us to compare methodologies (formal, iconographic, and aesthetic approaches, etc.) by bringing together various case studies discussing these imposing, heroic, seductive, disturbing, or repulsive bodies, whose anatomy was more or less revealed to embody, among other things, the figure of the invincible victor as well as that of the vulnerable victim.

For online access, please contact corps.pouvoir@gmail.com.

W E D N E S D A Y ,  6  O C T O B E R  2 0 2 1

14.30  Introductions by Mathilda Blanquet and Juliette Souperbie

15.00  Opening Lecture
• Victor I. Stoïchita (Professeur émérite, Université de Friburg), Gardiens du corps, gardiens du visage

15.40  Discussion

T H U R S D A Y ,  7  O C T O B E R  2 0 2 1

8.45  Welcome

9.15  Morning Session
Moderation: Juliette Souperbie (Doctorante, Université de Toulouse)
Le corps comme stratégie figurative dans les représentations des élites / The Body as a Figurative Strategy in the Representations of Elites
• Chloé Pluchon-Riera (Doctorante, Université de Grenoble), Petits corps, grandes ambitions. Enjeux politiques des portraits d’enfants dans l’Italie de la première modernité (XVe–XVIe siècles)
• Yann Lignereux (Professeur, Université de Nantes), Voy le portrait au vif de Henri quatrième. Sur une économie modeste de la persuasion politique : les portraits gravés d’Henri IV
• Émilie Ginestet (Doctorante, Université de Toulouse), Le corps inaltérable du roi, triompher du temps de Louis XIII à Louis XVI
• Andreas Plackinger (Maître de conférences, Université de Freiburg im Breisgau), Quelques observations sur l’imaginaire du souverain-père (XVe–XVIIIe siècles)
• Itay Sapir (Professeur, Université du Québec à Montréal), Le roi est mort, vive le roi ? : le corps royal à l’instant de son décès
• Dominic-Alain Boariu (Chercheur Senior, Université de Fribourg), Louis-Philippe à l’épreuve de la photographie

13.00  Lunch Break

14.30  Afternoon Session
Moderation: Frank Fehrenbach (Professeur, Hamburg Universität)
Pouvoirs du corps dans les objets d’apparat / Body’s Power in Pageantry Objects
• Gaylord Brouhot (Docteur, Historien de l’art et de la mode), Quand la mode façonne la persona privée d’une Reine : le « Cabinet Doré » de Marie de Médicis
• Simon Colombo (Doctorant, Université de Toulouse), Le corps-décor : fantaisies anatomiques dans les armes et armures de la Renaissance
• Yannis Hadjinicolaou (Chercheur associé, Université de Hambourg / Warburg Haus), The Ruler in Action: Falconry, Training, and the Body
• Diane Bodart (Professeure associée à Columbia University, en détachement de l’Université de Poitiers) – en visioconférence, Armures de lumière pour la Conquête

17.30  Discussion

F R I D A Y ,  8  O C T O B E R  2 0 2 1

8.45  Welcome

9.15  Morning Session
Moderation: Pascal Julien (Professeur, Université de Toulouse)
Le pouvoir du corps : sens et émotions enflammés dans l’imaginaire politique / The Power of the Body: Meaning and Emotions Ignited in the Political Imagination
• Mathilda Blanquet (Doctorante, Université de Toulouse / Junior Fellow Hamburg Universität), De l’éphèbe à l’athlète : variations esthétiques dans la sculpture politique (Florence, XVIe siècle)
• Mathilde Jaccard (Doctorante, Université de Genève), Pistoia 1479 : une Déjanire dénudée en Fortitude endeuillée
• Juliette Souperbie (Doctorante, Université de Toulouse), Sublime et dévoilé, immonde et écrasé : les ambiguïtés du corps féminin dans l’iconographie bourbonnienne
• Nicolas Cordon (Chercheur associé, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne), La politique du corps dans la Sala Regia du Vatican : interface et pouvoir de sujétion
• Bastien Hermouet (Doctorant, Université de Toulouse), La draperie et le corps sacré du roi : le buste de Louis XIV par le Bernin

13.00  Lunch Break

14.00  Afternoon Session
Moderation: Émilie Roffidal (Chargée de recherche CNRS, laboratoire FRAMESPA)
Les règnes du corps dans les décors princiers / The Reigns of the Body in Princely Decorations
• Tania Levy (Maîtresse de conférences, Université de Brest), Aprochant de corsage & traict de visage a la noble personne du Roy nostre sire’. Le corps du roi dans les entrées royales françaises du XVIe siècle : décors et manuscrits
• Marie Bouichou (Masters de l’université Columbia et de Toulouse), Le corps dans l’apparat politique des princes et des élites. Carrosses et décors éphémères au XVIIe siècle à Rome
• Caroline Ruiz (Doctorante, Université de Toulouse / membre de la Casa de Velázquez), Des corps déchus, un corps célébré : La fontaine de la Renommée de Sa Majesté Catholique à San Ildefonso (1728–1738)
• Giulia Cicali (Post-doctorante, EPHE), Vers l’apothéose du corps absolu

16.15  Discussion

16.30  Concluding Remarks

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