‘Curious Specimens’ and the Great Volcanic Cloud

Posted in conferences (summary), on site, site information by Editor on April 20, 2010

Rooftop of Strawberry Hill, April 2010. The new Gothic pinnacles have been recreated from oak. The chimney pots date from the 19th century; they, like the rest of the exterior, will be painted the same original white as the wooden ornaments; yes, it's going to be bright.

The Strawberry Hill Trust was formed in August of 2002 to restore Horace Walpole's Gothic Villa at Twickenham, just outside of London. With a budget of £8.2 million ($13million), the project is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

Good News: The Curious Specimens conference in London was even better than I had expected (and I expected a lot). The Walpole and Mrs. Delany exhibitions are both stunning as installed, respectively, at the V&A and Soane’s Museum. The conference panels were stimulating, and Saturday’s visit to Strawberry Hill was thrilling (hard to beat a rooftop tour). Many thanks to the organizers, especially Luisa Calè and Lisa Ford but also Michael Snodin, Amy Meyers, Margaret Powell, Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, and Brian Allen.

Bad News: Because I’m caught in the UK under a massive cloud of ash, with irregular access to email, Enfilade will be updated less frequently than normal during the next few days. ‘Caught’ hardly conveys my joy at having a few extra days in London; nor does talk of the ash cloud conjure the wonderful sunny weather that the city is currently experiencing, but it does perhaps suggest the utter strangeness of the situation (and to be fair, for untold numbers of people, the travel freeze is proving to be an horrendous ordeal). Please feel free to continue sending details for any announcements or news items you would like to see posted. I’ll add them as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience. -CH

Recapping ASECS in Albuquerque

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on March 30, 2010

By Amber Ludwig

If you were at this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, you probably tried Albuquerque’s favorite ingredient: the green chile. From breakfast burritos to macaroni and cheese, it goes on anything and everything in Albuquerque, NM, adding a flavor of the Southwest to ordinary dishes. A bit of southwestern spice was evident throughout this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, too. The airport volunteers at the information desk welcomed our ranks with southern hospitality and made sure everyone arrived at their respective hotels. The Hotel Albuquerque provided a southwestern backdrop with tile floors, a large fireplace, and brightly colored walls and furniture. The close proximity to Albuquerque’s Old Town made the hotel a great location for after-conference dinners complete with—what else?—green chiles.

The conference began bright and early on Thursday with offerings that frustrated some of the art historians. Several panels on art were scheduled for the opening session. “Theories of Visual Experience and Artists’ Writings about Art in the 18th Century,” “Constructing a Public Face: Image Creation in the Long 18th Century,” “Gender and Homosociality in the Long 18th Century,” “The 18th Century in Motion,” and “Portraits and Money” all took place at the same time and featured art historical papers. Despite this overlap, the sessions were well-attended, and animated audience members contributed to lively discussions. The day continued with panels on Venice, artists’ lives and afterlives, inspiration, and pastiche. Thursday ended with a rousing member reception that had conference attendees spilling outside, onto the hotel’s warm plaza to enjoy the beautiful weather and setting sun.

Friday continued with strong sessions. “Cultures of Flowers” — despite being held in one of the hotel’s suites rather than a conference room — provided a fascinating look into the various ways flowers conveyed meaning and operated within both intellectual and popular culture of the eighteenth century. “Visualizing Interiority in the 18th Century,” “Enthusiastic Performances: Women and Spirituality in the 18th Century,” “Satire et censure de l’Ancien Régime au Consulat,” and “HECAA New Scholars Session” gave members much to talk about at the HECAA luncheon. The “New Scholars Session,” in particular, demonstrated the variety of approaches and methodologies being employed by younger HECAA members. From theories of looking to econometrics (no, that isn’t a typo!), these presenters showed that the eighteenth century continues to attract innovative researchers. Friday ended with a decorative arts session that combined a traditional presentation of papers with a roundtable discussion, a popular format that encouraged audience participation.

The final day of the conference began with an unexpected snowfall, but the high temperatures melted any evidence well before lunch. The House of Habsburg was well-represented on Saturday with a two-part session addressing both art history and music history. Another multi-disciplinary panel, “Friendship between Men and Women,” tackled this often-ignored type of professional and personal relationship. The panel was a great way to wind down the conference, since it signaled various issues to be explored in the future. As the weekend came to an end, participants seemed a bit tired, but this writer is sure that a dinner—complete with green chiles—fortified everyone, preparing the scholars to tackle airport security for the flights home.

Amber Ludwig is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at Boston University. Her dissertation analyzes the creation and reception of portraits of Emma Hamilton and the ways in which the art of portraiture helped to fashion her public identity. Amber received one of HECAA’s Mary Vidal Memorial Fund Awards for travel to this year’s ASECS meeting.

Details on these panels, including a list of presenters and individual paper topics, can be found here»

Now Available: Audio Replay of CAA in Chicago

Posted in conferences (summary), resources by Editor on March 11, 2010

From CAA News, 5 March 2010:

The 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago, one of the best attended in recent years, had an incredibly diverse array of sessions. Audio recordings for eighty-one of those panels are now available for sale. A set of MP3 audio recordings from the Chicago conference is available for only $149.95, either as a download or on interactive CD-ROMs. Individual sessions, available only as downloads, are $24.95 each. Please visit Conference Media to view the list of sessions and to order.

Available sessions include such timely topics as “Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday” and “Autofictions, Avatars, and Alter Egos: Fabricating Artists.” Thematic art-historical topics, on analyzing repetition in ancient art and on violence and narrative in early modern art, also make appearances, as do state of the field talks on the art history of the African diaspora and on American-art textbooks. Included in the mix are pedagogical topics involving “Autonomizing Practices in Art, Art History, and Education” and “WTF: Talking Theory with Art and Art-History Undergrads,” among others.

Whether you took part in, attended, or missed a particular conference session, these recordings are a must-have for your library, research, or teaching. Listen to them while walking across campus, while driving in your car or using public transportation, or while relaxing in your home.

In addition to the Chicago sessions, you can also purchase session audio recordings from the 2006–9 conferences in Boston, New York, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Los Angeles. See http://conference.collegeart.org/audio for details.

Recapping the Conference on Everyday Objects

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on December 8, 2009

Everyday Objects: Art and Experience in Early Modern Europe
Courtauld Institute Inaugural Early Modern Symposium, London, 21 November 2009

By Paula Rea Radisich

The inaugural Early Modern Symposium—Everyday Objects: Art and Experience in Early Modern Europe—was a Courtauld Institute Research Forum organized by graduate students Edward Payne and Hannah Williams. The superbly-crafted list of possible topics of discussion Payne and Williams included in their call for papers will convey to Enfilade readers just what the phrase “everyday object” evokes. They welcomed papers analyzing images of the everyday (still life, genre scenes); ephemeral objects, temporary art or displays; things and thing theory; quotidian experience as a mode of beholding; spaces and activities of everyday life; and art works as everyday objects/everyday objects as art works.

Although most of the panelists were art historians, literary scholars and historians of material culture were also represented. Historian Ariane Fennetaux (Université Paris Diderot) examined surviving examples of the tie-on pocket and its “private” contents worn by British women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. English professor Beth Fowkes Tobin (Arizona State University) described women from the same era removing the brains and other organs from their dead pet birds in order to preserve them in artfully arranged bell jars displayed in the home. Professor of English and American Literatures and Language Melinda Rabb (Brown University) explored the relation of miniature furniture and other small versions of everyday objects collected by adults in early modern Europe to the history of human cognition, which postulates awareness of scale error as central to adult existence.

While art historian Samuel Bibby (University College London) asked us to consider Donatello’s bronze boy, the so-called Atys, as an everyday object, Olivia Fryman (Kingston University and Historic Royal Palaces) reversed the proposition, demonstrating how John Riley’s 1686 portrait of Bridget Holmes, the servant charged with cleaning out the King’s chamber pot, represented her as the occupant of a dignified post engaged in serious work. In this full-length portrait commissioned directly by James II himself, the 96-year-old Holmes wears the tidy plebian clothing of a prosperous street vendor and wields a broom.  Joanna Woodall (The Courtauld Institute of Art) speculated upon the role of light in Dutch still life compositions by such artists as Willem Claesz. Heda, and Katie Scott (The Courtauld Institute of Art) summed up the production, cost and appearance of the type of salmon-colored male handkerchief appearing on the desk in David’s Portrait of Jacobus Blauw, 1795. Responding to the prompt from Payne and Williams, my own paper drew on Bill Brown’s notions of thing theory to analyze how shoes signified in Chardin’s La mère laborieuse, Lancret’s Fastening the Skate, and to a lesser extent, Boucher’s La Toilette, all produced between 1740-43 in Paris.

As the Humanities gropes for new paradigms–on this topic, see the Forum on interpreting the French Revolution in French Historical Studies 32 (Fall 2009) and the ensuing discussion on H-France–the study of the everyday object appeals from a number of perspectives. The questions posed by Edward Payne in his opening remarks are the ones that stuck with me: How can we use the formulation of the everyday object as an analytical tool? What constitutes an everyday object? How was it experienced? For whom was it “everyday”?

The author of Hubert Robert: Painted Spaces of the Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press), Paula Rea Radisich is a Professor of Art History at Whittier College, California.

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