George Caleb Bingham's River Paintings: Facingness and the Aesthetic - The Courtauld Institute of Art

George Caleb Bingham’s River Paintings: Facingness and the Aesthetic

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George Caleb Bingham’s River Paintings: Facingness and the Aesthetic

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

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George Caleb Bingham, 'The Jolly Flatboatmen', 1846, oil on canvas, 96.8 x 123.2 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

  • Monday 16 October 2017
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

    Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Speaker

  • Professor David Peters Corbett - The Courtauld Institute of Art

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  • Professor David Peters Corbett - The Courtauld Institute of Art

This talk is concerned with how the river paintings of the important painter of the American West, George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879), face us and how this fact implies an ethics of looking. I argue that the facingness of Bingham’s paintings is a way of affirming both their own aesthetic status and their relevance to prevailing political narratives of the time. Drawing on some recent and period writings about the face, I suggest that these paintings’ encounter with the spectator offers an ethics of dialogue and proposes the agency of the work of art itself as a legitimate voice in national debate.

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