The IAS sponsors and supports a number of conference sessions and lectures each year. In addition to IAS-Sponsored Conference Sessions and an annual lecture co-sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the IAS posts calls for papers and opportunities to attend other conferences related to Italian Art. If you have a conference or lecture that should be posted here, please contact the webmaster.
GIORNATE DI STUDIO SU PAOLO VERONESE
25 – 27 September 2014. Read abstract
On the occasion of the exhibition Paolo Veronese. L’illusione della realtà
(Verona, Palazzo della Gran Guardia, 5th July – 5th October 2014), curated by Paola Marini and Bernard
Aikema, an international conference will take place to discuss the new points of view on Paolo Veronese as emerged during the two monographic exhibitions in London and Verona. A poster session will run simultaneously to the conference.
COLLECTING AND NEW DIRECTIONS IN MUSEOLOGY
10-12 October 2014, MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen. Read abstract
Research in the history of collecting has often focused on the development and the uses of historical collections of art and artifacts, their composition and the choreography of display. Over the past decade, the international forum Collecting & Display has been investigating diverse aspects of Collecting History: female collectors, dynastic ambition, the role of nature, or the location of display rooms within the context of princely residences. To celebrate the first decade of our existence as well as the launch of a dedicated series of publications – “Collecting Histories” under the editorship of founding member Andrea Gáldy, PhD, FHistS – we will host a conference dedicated to new directions in the areas of collecting, display, visitor experience and the use of modern media in today’s museums that might or might not dispel with the need to engage with actual objects, and whether and how the engagement with the history of collections has influenced and modified contemporary museology. With this event we intend to look forward towards a future, which oftentimes looks bleak due to funding cuts but also offers exciting prospects as far as the diverse possibilities of display are concerned; not to forget the rising visitor numbers at many of the great museums worldwide. What is the mission of collections and museums? And, how does one balance the history of collections and the collections themselves against the need for outreach activities, the call for edutainment and popular access in conjunction with a sustainable use of collectibles? Is there a way in which the past of a collection may point the way towards the best practice in use and presentation of the exhibits? Questions may be directed to Dr. Andrea Gáldy and Dr. Axel Lapp
. Memmingen is easy to reach by train via Munich or Stuttgart/Ulm as well as by plane to the Allgaeu Airport.
FACE, FACES, THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF FACE
19-22 October 2014, Athens, GA. Read abstract
The Nomadikon Center for the Visual Arts, Bergen, NO and The Center for the Ethics of Seeing, Albany, NY hosts interdisciplinary conference. In his Theory of the Film
(1952), Bela Balázs wrote that “[f]acial expression is the most subjective manifestation of man, more subjective than speech.” In the close-up, the Hungarian film theorist and writer saw an image unbound by time and space, thus identifying the point at which the film image could become a concept, a supremely expressive unit of signification closer than other types of images to thought. In contemporary visual culture, the visibility of the face is a given, and some would perhaps claim that its presence has become almost ubiquitous. Consider for instance that in 2013 Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the word of the year. Yet despite its cultural pervasiveness, the face remains a curiously overlooked subject of research in the humanities and social sciences. For this conference, we invite papers from any discipline that engage with faciality and the face as a phenomenological, social, cultural, aesthetic, visual, literary, philosophical, semiotic, historical, and textual object. Particularly welcome are discussions that explore the concept and materiality of the face in the arts, with their rich traditions for representing faciality – photography, cinema studies, art history, literature, dance, theatre and performance, and social media and the digital arts. As an aesthetic category spanning a range of different media, the face often seems potentially self-referential. When drawing attention to itself, the face may become a source of opacity which inhibits the hermeneutic flow, something which strips away all context until the only thing we are left with is its sheer material presence. The filmic face is also enigmatic. The film theorist Richard Rushton (2002) has observed that we tend to suppose that the face is hiding something, that it represents “a surface haunted by intimations of concealment, interiority and exteriority.” Taking the impenetrability of the face as its point of departure, then, this conference encourages submissions on a variety of topics relating to the face and faciality, including but in no way limited to the following: the close-up and its long history in the moving arts (i.e. Dreyer, Bergman, Warhol, Cassavetes, Leone, Godard, Pasolini, Tarkovsky, Egoyan, Assayas and Kiarostami, to name just a few); the face as a mask (the poker face or blackface, but also in Heidegger’s conception of the image—the Latin imago—as a death mask); the face as a site of ethical encounter in the philosophy of Levinas (face-to-face); Deleuze’s notion of the affection-image, or his study of the dismantling of face in the portrait paintings of Francis Bacon; the cinematic reaction shot; the culture of Facebook and the “selfie;” the portrait genre throughout art history; the face as pure surface or exteriority (the face of the earth); the face in relation to ethnicity/race/gender; the digital interface; the various permutations of the look/the gaze/the glance; the face and sexuality; the face of/face and disability; iconicity and the face; the face and ethics; the veiled face; the face and iconophobia – etc. The conference will be held at the Foundry Inn in downtown Athens. This conference is a continued partnership between the Nomadikon Center for Visual Culture, Bergen, Norway and The Center for the Ethics of Seeing, Albany, New York. The previous conference in this partnership was “The Ecologies of Seeing,” hosted in the fall of 2012 at The College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York. Registration for the conference is $130.00. For further information, contact organizers Mark Ledbetter, Susan Cumings, and Theresa Flanigan
CARLO FONTANA (1638–1714), A CELEBRATED ARCHITECT
22–23 October 2014, Rome, Italy. Read abstract
This International Conference is organized by Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in collaboration with Università degli Studi di Roma 2 “Tor Vergata.” The conference, to be held at Palazzo Carpegna, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, is dedicated to the architect Carlo Fontana (Rancate 1638 – Roma 1714) on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of his death. The protagonist of Roman architecture as the Baroque was waning, Fontana, descending from a famous dynasty of Ticinese architects, organized the teaching and practice of architecture based on the exercise of drawing and geometry. His workshop thus prefigured modern design studios. The propagandistic usage of engravings and printed volumes illustrating and diffusing Fontana’s works and ideas constituted yet another factor of his modernity. In fact, Fontana understood perfectly the dimension of intellectual and creative freedom of the print, liberating himself from the dependence on patrons and from morphological and typological conventions of his time. The projects of Carlo Fontana range from artifacts of domestic use, interiors, civil, religious and military architecture to the most challenging urban and territorial infrastructures (ports, aqueducts, grain warehouses, etc.). These design and entrepreneurial features are comparable then to the great architectural studios of the 19th and 20th centuries, confirming Fontana’s actuality. Such an innovative workshop organization attracted students from all over Europe: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Nicodemus Tessin, Lucas von Hildebrandt, Filippo Juvarra, Francesco Specchi, and James Gibbs, to name a few. In Fontana’s studio students could learn innovative typologies, modern and experimental techniques, at the same time measuring themselves up to the great Roman construction tradition, both ancient and modern. Their direct contact with monuments was favored by the works Fontana executed on antique buildings to make them fit for new usages and new representations. Papers will encompass and explore, but by no means be limited to, the above mentioned aspects, always bearing in mind the cosmopolitan and European horizon that characterizes the production, teaching, and thought of architect Carlo Fontana. Questions may be sent by e-mail message
ANDREW LADIS ITALIAN TRECENTO CONFERENCE
23-25 October 2014, Georgia Museum of Art and the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Read abstract
This symposium in memory of scholar Andrew Ladis celebrates both his love of trecento painting and his commitment to its display, study, and preservation in a museum context. Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The conference will open Thursday evening with a keynote address by Carl Strehlke of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and feature speakers from various disciplines and countries, focusing on the interpretation and technical development of gold-ground painting in Renaissance Italy the following day. The museum will host a trip to Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday, October 25, 10$ per person. The conference itself is free and open to the public. To reserve a hotel room at the Athens Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express, call 800-315-2621 and mention the “Georgia Museum of Art Trecento Conference.” RSVP by email
for the conference and/or trip to Greenville.
Thursday, October 23, 2014, 5:30 p.m.
2014 Alfred Heber Holbrook Memorial Lecture, Carl Brandon Strehlke, adjunct curator, John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Curating the Renaissance”
Friday, October 24, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Introductions by William U. Eiland, director, Georgia Museum of Art, and Shelley Zuraw, Lamar Dodd School of Art
Rika Burnham, head of education, The Frick Collection, “Close Study: Madonna and Child by Marco Basaiti”
Perri Lee Roberts, professor of art history, University of Miami, “Strategies for Learning About Gold Ground Painting”
Gianfranco Pocobene, John L. and Susan K. Gardner Chief Conservator, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, “Giuliano da Rimini’s Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints: Technical Discoveries and the Inscription Question”
Dianne Modestini, conservator, Kress Program in Paintings Conservation, Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center, New York University, “Problems in the Cleaning and Restoration of Early Italian Paintings”
Wolfgang Loseries, researcher and project coordinator, Kunsthistoriches Institut in Florenz, “Relics, Processions and Miracles: Benedetto di Bindo’s Paintings for the Chapel of Relics in Siena Cathedral”
Gail E. Solberg, instructor in art history, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Florence Program, “The Altarpiece Trade in the Late Trecento: Taddeo di Bartolo and Spinello Aretino”
George Bent, Sidney Gause Childress Professor in the Arts, Washington and Lee University, “Adventures in Advertising in the Florentine Wool Guild”
Nathaniel Silver, art historian, “Making a Splash: Sant’Antonio di Castello and the Antonines in Trecento Venice”
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Trip to Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, Greenville, S.C. View the collection of Old Master paintings; lunch on the grounds with discussion facilitated by Shelley Zuraw
BRAMANTE AND LOMBARD QUATTROCENTO ARCHITECTURE
October 2014, Milan. Read abstract
Promoted by Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Architettura e Studi Urbani / Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte. On the occasion of the Fifth Centenary of the death of Donato Bramante (1514- 2014), the Politecnico di Milano and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore propose to dedicate a day of study to new information and interpretations concerning the many unsolved problem of Bramante’s architecture. The Study-Day, to be held nearly thirty years after the conference promoted by the Università Cattolica in 1986 and in collaboration with others intending to celebrate the Centenary, aims at offering the opportunity for a dialogue between scholars, particularly younger ones, by presenting research in progress as well as prospects for future investigations. The aim of the Conference is two-fold: the 500th centenary of Bramante’s death presents an opportunity to invite scholars to present new work that will update the catalogue of Bramante’s work in Milan and Lombardy, as well as promoting at an international level an exchange of ideas and different approaches intended to calibrate the importance, or lack of it, of the presence of Bramante in Milan. Questions may be directed to the organizers by email
. The Acts of the Study-Day will be published in a monographic issue of the journal Arte lombards
AUGUSTUS THROUGH THE AGES
6-7 November, Brussels. Read abstract
Augustus through the Ages: receptions, readings and appropriations of the historical figure of the first Roman emperor. Augusti Manes volitant per auras
. In 2014, many academic institutions and museums will celebrate the bi-millennial of the death of Augustus with colloquiums, exhibitions, and publications. The life, the political ingenuity, and the era of the founder of the Roman Empire have not been honored or discussed in this manner since 1937-1938, when an exhibition, the Mostra augustea della Romanità, at the instigation of the Fascist regime, celebrated the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Emperor. Yet the outcome of the re-examinations in 2014 will not be complete if emphasis is not put on the enduring fame and fortune he experienced in the West, for this renowned figure created an empire which united, for the first time, the Mediterranean with the regions north of the Alps. The importance of this personage throughout our recorded cultural history makes a multidisciplinary approach essential. It is therefore, as diverse field and period specialists, that we wish to invite our Belgian and foreign university colleagues to bring together their skills and knowledge – in the distinct fields of history, cultural history, literature, art history, semiotics, etc. – to retrace the multiple interpretations and appropriations of Augustus from his death to the present days. This colloquium will bring together historians, philologists, archaeologists, and art historians of different periods to present papers on various topics in accordance with the following guidelines: Receptions of Augustan politics and ideology and their appropriations; Religious appropriations; Representations of Augustus in mixed media (e.g. comics, television series); Augustus in literature and the arts, or in movies and on the Web; Memory of Augustus as the “urban designer” who transformed Rome into a city of marble. Questions may be directed by e-mail to Marco Cavalieri
. Organizing Committee: Pierre Assenmaker (F.R.S.-FNRS/UCLouvain) Mattia Cavagna (UCLouvain) Marco Cavalieri (UCLouvain/Università degli Studi di Firenze, SSBA) David Engels (ULB, Bruxelles) Costantino Maeder (UCLouvain).
BRAMANTINO AND FRENCH RULE IN RENAISSANCE LOMBARDY (1499-1522)
6-7 November 2014, Lugano. Read abstract
From 28 September 2014 to 11 January 2015 the Museo Cantonale d’Arte in Lugano
will host a major exhibition consecrated to Bartolomeo Suardi, known as Bramantino. The exhibition traces the artist’s entire cultural and expressive itinerary, from the onset of his career to his very last works. Works of Bramantino will be shown alongside paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures and goldsmith’s art which represent, in a tightly-knit web of exchanges and interferences, the most important Lombard figurative tendencies within the frame of the Italian Wars and the French rule of Lombardy (1499-1525). Since the exhibition will constitute an important opportunity to re-examine the works of Bramantino and of his contemporaries, the Museo Cantonale d’Arte promotes a two-day symposium to present and discuss the most recent studies of the researchers active in this field. The symposium will take place in Lugano from the 6th to the 7th of November 2014. The symposium aims at bringing together art historical presentations as well as technical and scientific investigations reports on specific works. The proceedings of the symposium will then be published in a volume of the series Biblioteca d’Arte Skira.
LOCAL ANTIQUITIES, LOCAL IDENTITIES: ART, LITERATURE AND ANTIQUARIANISM IN EUROPE BETWEEN THE 14TH AND 17TH CENTURIES
13-14 November 2014, The Warburg Institute, London. Read abstract
Early modern Europe found new fascination in the classical past, but how that past was conceived varied widely. This conference will explore diverse notions of antiquity across Europe in the early modern era, challenging assumptions about a Greco-Roman past and a ‘Renaissance’ that were both universal and monolithic. It is already well known that multiple ‘antiquities’ informed the artistic and literary culture of Rome, Florence and Venice and much recent work has been done on the reception of antiquity in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Our conference will consider how this research has fundamentally changed the perception of European antiquarianism and further explore the reception of the classical past on the local and regional level. European communities considered local antiquities as living testaments to their antique origins, whether real or fictive. They looked not only to Greco-Roman antiquity, but also to the culture of pre-Roman, indigenous populations. Cities and regions shaped their notions of the ‘antique’ not only from a classical heritage but also that of more recent past, as when medieval objects or texts were believed to be ancient or purposely re-fashioned as such. Real or fictive ruins, inscriptions, or literary works could be used to demonstrate a particular idea of the ancient past or as a statement of civic pride. Described in poetry or other texts, antiquities were central to the literary traditions of local communities; works of art and architecture either redeployed spolia
of recognizable local provenance or were characterized by a regional concept of the antique. Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative method, the conference aims to investigate such issues. We seek abstracts for papers that explore local concepts of the antique in the form of archaeological excavations, works of art, architecture, or texts. How were local antiquities used to construct a sense of identity for civic bodies or individuals? How did imported modes of classical revival merge or clash with local idioms? How did local communities respond to or attempt to rival Rome and other heirs to antique traditions? Papers might address issues of competing ‘antiquities’, the character and priorities of local concepts of the antique, or relationships between concepts of antiquity in various regions. They might also consider wider aspects of the local reception of antiquity, such as patterns in myths of origins that recur in different areas of Europe. We would welcome any topic dealing with the impact of local concepts of antiquity in early modern literature, antiquarianism or the visual arts. This 2-day conference organized by Kathleen Christian (The Open University, Department of History of Art) and Bianca de Divitiis (ERC/HistAntArtSI project, University of Naples Federico II) will be held at the Warburg Institute in London on Thursday November 13–Friday November 14, 2014. Questions should be directed to Kathleen Christian and Bianca de Divitiis
THE POWER OF AFFECTIONS: POETRY, MUSIC, AND SPECTACLE IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN OPERA LIBRETTOS
13-14 November 2014, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Read abstract
An international conference organized by the Center for Italian Studies and the Music Department of the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with the Institute for Music of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy. For more on the theme of the conference, please see the conference website
. Questions may be directed to Mauro Calcagno
. Organizing Committee: Fabio Finotti, Mauro Calcagno, Carlo Lanfossi, Marina Della Putta Johnston. Registration Fee: professionals $100; students $70; Closing Dinner: $50.
DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE IN THE WORKS OF ADAM, CLÉRISSEAU, AND CASSAS
27-29 November 2014, Institute of Art History – Center Cvito Fiskovic in Split, Croatia. Read abstract
The Grand Tour, as an educational rite of passage, reached its peak in the 18th century, widening its traveling radius outside of Rome and Italy onto further parts of the Roman Empire, among which Dalmatia held a prominent position. The international interdisciplinary conference on architecture, urban planning, and architectural decoration aims to explore the role of Diocletian’s Palace in the work of Robert Adam, Charles-Louis Clérisseau, and Louis-François Cassas, as well as the influence of Diocletian’s palace on the development of European neoclassicism.
SYMPOSIUM: SANCTITY PICTURED: THE ART OF THE DOMINICAN AND FRANCISCAN ORDERS IN RENAISSANCE ITALY
10 January 2015, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. Read abstract
In conjunction with Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy,
a groundbreaking exhibition of Italian art made between 1250 and 1550. Conceived and organized by Frist Center Curator and Renaissance art historian Trinita Kennedy, it explores the significant role of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the revival of the arts that began in Italy in the thirteenth century and shows how these orders fueled the creation of some of the most splendid works of Italian Renaissance art and architecture. On view through January 25, 2015, Sanctity Pictured
is the first major exhibition to examine the art of the two great orders together during the period in which they were at the height of their power in Italy and had its leading artists in their service. The exhibition is the first major presentation of Italian Renaissance art in Nashville since 1934, when selections from the Samuel H. Kress collection were shown at the city’s historic replica of the Parthenon. The exhibition brings together more than sixty works of art, in media ranging from painting and manuscript illumination to bronze medals and printed books. Among the highlights are the Vatican Museums’ Saint Francis with Four Post-Mortem Miracles
, the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Abbey Bible and dramatic painting Saint Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata
by Domenico Beccafumi.Twenty-eight American museums and libraries, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, and Pierpont Morgan Library are lending works to the exhibition. For the first time in its history, the Frist Center is borrowing works from the Vatican Library and Vatican Museums. The Frist Center is the exclusive venue for Sanctity Pictured
. Among the extensive schedule of public programming, the Frist Center will hold an all-day public symposium on Saturday, January 10, 2015
in the Frist Center auditorium. The speakers, in addition to Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy, will be Donal Cooper, University of Cambridge; Holly Flora, Tulane University; Janet Robson, Independent Scholar; and Christine Sciacca, J. Paul Getty Museum. For more information and a listing of public programs, please see the press release online
UNTYING “THE KNOT”: THE STATE OF POSTWAR ITALIAN ART HISTORY TODAY
9-10 February 2015, The Center for Modern Italian Art, New York, conference and study day organized by Sharon Hecker and Marin R. Sullivan. Sponsored by CIMA and the Italian Art Society. Read abstract
2015 marks the thirty-year anniversary of curator Germano Celant’s The Knot
, the 1985 landmark exhibition held at PS1 in New York, which introduced contemporary Italian art to American audiences. Yet despite the interest it generated in its time, only recently have scholars in the United States begun to consider postwar Italian art as a subject for study. Today, thanks to shows like the Tate Modern/Walker Art Center’s Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-1972
, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly turning their attention to study Italian art created after World War II. Italian archives are becoming more accessible, more primary texts have been translated into English, and a growing number of museum and gallery exhibitions, conferences and English publications in both the U.S. and the U.K. are beginning to fill the lacuna. With the passage of half a century, European and American scholars alike are using these venues to historicize and scrutinize the complex dichotomies that defined Italy during the period: from its dialogue with artistic and craft traditions of the past within the context of rapid industrialization, to the so-called “economic miracle” and the effects of American consumerism, to the mechanics of Italy’s desire to establish a particular kind of Italian Modernism that would also become internationally influential. The Italian national context that once appeared to Anglo-American scholars as provincial, homogenous, or retrograde is now considered a crucial art historical moment bursting with distinct artists, radical groups and tendencies, including Informale, Gruppo N, and Arte Povera, as well as artworks shaped by concurrent historical developments in science, industry, politics, literature, photography, architecture, design and film. A scholarly outlook on art created in Italy during the postwar period has now fully emerged in the U.K. and U.S., but its parameters and impact have yet to be assessed. This study day seeks to evaluate the current state of the field and to highlight alternative methodologies for future inquiry. Scheduled for February 10, 2015, the day prior to the opening of the College Art Association’s 103rd Annual Conference in New York, it will complement the IAS-sponsored session, “Di politica: Intersections of Italian Art and Politics since World War II,” chaired by Dr. Christopher Bennett and Dr. Elizabeth Mangini. Through brief paper presentations, ample discussion, and a respondent roundtable, the goal of the study day is to address and explore the most pressing issues, concerns, and questions driving postwar Italian art history on both sides of the Atlantic today. Are those concerns the same for Italian and non-Italian scholars of different generations? How do we take into account regional differences and, at the same time, questions of a unified national Italian identity? How did novel materials and the emergence of industrial design impact the visual arts in Italy and vice versa? What was new about art made in Italy during this time and what continued or was rephrased, reshaped and recycled (either critically or uncritically) from the immediate, Fascist or more distant past (for example, Futurism, or even further back, from the nineteenth century, the Renaissance, the Baroque, Medieval or Ancient periods)? While the primary focus of the conference is Italy and Italian artists between 1945 and 1975, we also welcome case studies—with an eye to methodology—that examine cross-cultural exchange, including the reception of Italian art internationally or the presence of foreign artists in Italy; the impact of international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale; or the influence of the postwar generation on art being produced around the world today. Click here to see the program of speakers.
ONCE UPON A TIME: MANFREDO TAFURI AND THE CRISIS OF ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY
6-7 March 2015, Zürich, Cabaret Voltaire. Read abstract
Keynote speakers: Dr. Victor Buchli (University College London) Prof. Dr. Andrew Leach (Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia) Prof. Dr. Michael Osman (UCLA, Los Angeles). Against the background of a general revision and critical reflection of the history of architecture in its relation to theory and criticism, this conference aims at opening up a space of discussion on the contemporary nature and condition of architectural history. We propose to do so by referring to the legacy of Italian historian and theoretician Manfredo Tafuri (1935–1994), who may be seen as one of the most influential thinkers of the relationship between the history and theory of architecture of the contemporary period. Architecture is a shifting and elusive object whose nature remains difficult to define. It relates not only to buildings and projects, but also to written and oral sources, and is deeply embedded in social, economical, and political contexts. For this reason, architectural history seems to be predestinated to be interdisciplinary and calls for a multitude of historical narratives. Furthermore, the relatively weak disciplinary condition of architectural history leans on a long tradition of partial and subjective histories that have often been written by architects themselves. This leads to the question whether an “objective” history of architecture is possible, and to what extent architectural history is fundamentally linked to changing architectural trends. But while both “general” history and the history of art have performed a critical reframing of their claim for objectivity and have underscored the implicit theory and ideology beyond every form of historical narrative, architectural history, by contrast, has widely escaped such a critical reframing. And while in particular art history has reflected upon the history of theories that framed its discourse – the history of style, iconology, phenomenology, to name but a few – this kind of reflection seems to be yet missing for the history of architecture. The work of Manfredo Tafuri is an interesting starting point for such a reflection on the nature of the history of architecture. Tafuri’s position was mainly based on a questioning of what he called “operational critique,” which was put in the service of a particular architectural tendency. By contrast, he defined his own critical take as progetto storico
, as a performative and self-reflexive questioning of the history of architecture. His work was strongly influenced by historical materialism, thus highlighting the socio-economic and political conditions in which architecture is embedded. We propose to understand Tafuri as a critical agent, for questioning both his own theory of history and the nature of architectural history today. We propose to do so in reference to cultural models underlying our current position, in particular the resurgence of Marxism and historical materialism in contemporary architecture. By undertaking a critical reevaluation of Tafuri’s legacy from a contemporary perspective, we not only aim to point at the inherent aporias in the Italian historian’s thinking, but also want to contribute towards a theoretical framing of the discipline of architectural history. The conference is divided into three sections:
1) The many styles of architectural history. If architectural history (like art history) has been determined by a sequence of different methodological foci (style, iconology, phenomenology, technology, social history, etc.), where do we situate Tafuri in this continuity and where do we situate ourselves in the current debates? Do historical methodologies represent a toolbox of possible heuristic approaches to chose from, or should these all coexist in any contemporary historical work? If we roughly distinguish between the (formal) description of projects/buildings and their political/cultural/economic contexts, and how can and should their relationship be defined?
2) Architectural history and the zeitgeist. What are the historical and theoretical narratives underlying our thinking today, and to what extent is it possible to abstract from them? Can and should we escape the cultural and political context in which we act? Regarding Tafuri, it is interesting to reflect upon his repeated but difficult to understand critique of deconstruction, and upon the strong influence of structuralism in his work, as well as the difficulty to combine it with Marxist thought.
3) Architectural history and contemporary architecture. To what extent should the architectural historian comment upon contemporary architecture? Would this be theory or criticism, and how may it be differentiated from the writing of history? While criticizing the critica operativa because of its engagement with contemporary architecture, Tafuri too referred frequently to contemporary architectural discourse and had many personal relationships with architects of his time, thus pointing at another contradiction in his theoretical and historical oeuvre.
The definitive program will be communicated by the end of November 2014. The conference is co-organized by the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zurich, the Institute of Art History, University of Zurich, and the Center History of Knowledge. It is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Depending on funding, grants for travel and accommodation will be made available.
ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI. INTERPRETING NEW EVIDENCE, ASSESSING NEW ATTRIBUTIONS
7 May 2015, Florence, Italy. Read abstract
The 3rd annual Jane Fortune Conference organized by the Medici Archive Project and hosted by the British Institute in Florence will examine in depth the recent findings on baroque artist Artemisia Genitleschi. Full information can be found on the conference website
Past Conferences on Italian Topics
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