Online Talk | Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Object Biography

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 22, 2021

From the BGC:

Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Object Biography: The Life of a Concept
Online, Seminar in Museum Conversations, Bard Graduate Center, New York, 2 November 2021

Jan Luyken, Design for frontispiece, Het Leerzaam Huisraad, 1709, 14 × 90 cm (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, RP-T-1989-183).

The object biography has gained popularity in art history, material culture studies, archaeology, history, conservation and restoration, and museum studies. As a concept, the biography creates attention for the individual trajectories of objects and how these change over time; it enables the connection of different approaches, usually dealt with by sub-disciplines (i.e. research into making, provenance, exhibition history, conservation, reception); it offers entry points even if no information is available and encourages interdisciplinarity as objects straddle many fields. Finally, the object biography stimulates new forms of writing because it lends the object a voice and foregrounds narrative.

But the concept’s anthropocentric foundations also raise questions. To have a ‘biography’ implies biological and mental development, which objects typically do not have. Are young objects less settled and do objects grow wiser the older they get? Metaphors of birth, maturing, and death might cover up exclusively thing-specific characteristics. Likewise, the proposed ‘life’ implies agency, but do objects really speak for themselves? Who actually tells their story, and would objects be better if we used concepts such as itineraries or necrographies to capture their histories?

This talk presents a brief history and theory of the concept of the object-biography, from its literary and didactic origins in the eighteenth-century to its recent critics, asking what the concept can help us see, which we otherwise would not. This free talk takes place, via Zoom, on Tuesday, November 2, at 5.00pm. Registration information is available here.

Ann-Sophie Lehmann is chair of art history & material culture at the University of Groningen. She recently published Lessons in Art: Art, Education, and Modes of Instruction, edited with E. Jorink and B. Ramakers (Leiden 2019). For an overview of her publications and activities is available here.


Online Series | The Museum and Gallery Today

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 22, 2021

From the PMC:

The Museum and Gallery Today: Paul Mellon Lectures 2021
Six Online Lectures, 20 October — 11 February 2022

Established in 1994, this lecture series was named in honour of Paul Mellon (Yale College, class of 1929), the philanthropist, collector of British art, and founder of both the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) in New Haven and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) in London. Co-organised by the two institutions, these biennial lectures have traditionally been given by a specialist in British art, first at the National Gallery, London, and again at the YCBA in New Haven.

This year’s series, entitled The Museum and Gallery Today, is exclusively online and features individual talks from some of the world’s most distinguished museum and gallery directors. The lectures are presented as free live webinars. Registration is required (for each lecture, individually).

20 October 2021
Gabriele Finaldi (Director of the National Gallery)

3 November 2021
Kaywin Feldman (Director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)

10 November 2021
Thelma Golden (Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem)

11 November 2021
Iwona Blazwick (Director of the Whitechapel Gallery)

24 November 2021
Maria Balshaw (Director of Tate)

11 February 2022
Eve Tam (Former Director of the Hong Kong Museum of Art)

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