Art History

Art History

Art History Lecture Series, Orientations in Renaissance Art

Alexander Nagel
New York University
December 9, 2013
In this lecture, Alexander Nagel, Professor of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, illustrates some ways in which art produced during the Renaissance period points ­eastward towards Constantinople, towards the Holy Land, and to places further east, even as far as China. Nagel focuses on the forms this "orientation" took between 1492-1507, years during which new lands were being discovered, to great fanfare, but were still believed to belong to the continent of Asia.

Up Close and Far Away: Artists, Memorialization, and Uganda’s Troubled Past

Sidney Kasfir
Professor Emerita, Emory University
December 10, 2012

In the past ten years, the term “heritage” in African art studies has gone from being a cliché used only by cultural bureaucrats to a burgeoning academic growth industry, brought into being by studies of collective memory or national trauma in relation to both historical and invented pasts. In this lecture, Sidney Kasfir, Professor Emerita at Emory University, asserts that one of the important ways heritage is given substance as an idea is through memorialization, both through public monuments and smaller-scale artworks. In Buganda, a long-embattled African kingdom, these works of art and architecture give substance to memories of greatness, on the one hand, and victimhood, suffering, and loss, on the other.

Recognition: Theme and Meta-Theme in Northern Renaissance Art

Mitchell Merback
Johns Hopkins University
October 23, 2012

Late medieval and Renaissance painters in northern Europe took pride in characterizing the forms of attention specific to the votive encounter. Amidst the hubbub of the Crucifixion, certain witnesses to the event are shown poised between acceptance and rejection of the dying man as the Christ of prophecy. These figures allowed beholders to measure their own response to Jesus’s paradoxical ­identity along a ­spectrum between seeing and blindness, between ­discipleship and reprobacy. Captured in the dawning of their comprehension, such characters ­embodied that ­passage from ignorance to knowledge that Aristotle, in The Poetics, called “recognition” (anagnôrisis). In this lecture, Mitchell Merback, Associate Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins University, argues that to speak of a Christian poetics of disclosure in early modern art requires first understanding how recognition was ­elevated to a grand theme—and a galvanizing meta-theme—in the ­brilliantly naturalistic art produced north of the Alps.

This lecture is part of a series on art history cosponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.