Experience and American Art - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Experience and American Art

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Experience and American Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, c1891 The Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Organised by

  • David Peters Corbett - The Courtauld Institute of Art


What does it mean to experience a work of art? What does it mean for a work of art to register—even enact—an experience? Would it be possible for an art historian working now, in experiencing a work of art, to sense some aspect of lived experience from another time, another place? Although words such as Presence, Directness, and Immediacy remain in relatively low esteem among art historians—our access to the past and to works of art usually held to be a matter of severe mediation—why can we not insist on the directness and uniqueness of our own experience?

The experiences in question might be special occasions, where time seems to stand still, or they might be more like the steady-state hum of unremarkable daily life; or they might be both.

We seek papers that would explore how lived experience makes it into American art and artefacts; and how art historians—instead of accepting a role as creatures of distance and division—might speak directly about art and about the past.

Submission process: Please send abstracts (no more than 250 words) to David Peters Corbett and Alexander Nemerov at experienceconference2018@gmail.com by November 1, 2017. 

Organised by: Alexander Nemerov (Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University) and David Peters Corbett (Professor of American Art and Director, Centre for American Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

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