2014 Frank Davis Lecture Series
The 2014 Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series, Courtauld Professorial Lectures, provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the quality research of some of The Courtauld’s distinguished professors, and will include explorations of early and contemporary examples of globalisation; the populist dimension of postmodernism; Diderot’s writings and their relationship to questions of materiality, portraiture and the interior; how technical examinations of paintings can inform art historical analysis; and an analysis of William Morris’ printed fabrics. Videos of the lectures are available to view below.
Elite Art in an Age of Populism
Delivered by Professor Julian Stallabrass (Professor of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art), on Tuesday, 7 October 2014.
Postmodernism was characterised by a strong strain of populism that celebrated the tastes of ordinary people. Venturi and his collaborators celebrated the architecture and urban fabric of Las Vegas, for example. There remains a powerful trend to a branded, populist art in contemporary art. Yet this is different from the earlier version because museums have had increasingly to commercialise themselves, collecting has become more instrumental (driven by investment) and internationalised, and art work is increasingly seen on social media and is subject to public comment. If modernism was attached to the technologies of production (cars, planes, ocean liners) and postmodernism to the technologies of reproduction (TV and video), the new populist stage may see a synthesis of the two in networked computer technology. The elite now frame rather than manufacture what is popular, and elite culture is eroded as a result.
Globalisation Before Globalisation: “Magiciens de la Terre”?
Delivered by Professor Sarah Wilson (Professor of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art) on Tuesday, 21 October 2014.
2014 is a year of significant birthdays: the 25th anniversary of Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the 20th anniversary of Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever, originally a talk at The Courtauld Institute of Art which Sarah Wilson hosted. The 30th anniversary of Jean-Francois Lyotard’s Les Immatériaux at the Pompidou is celebrated one year early in Dusseldorf. Professorial lectures must look back and of course look forward. Looking back one notes the remarkable change in the modern and contemporary curriculum over the past decades as regards methods and theories as well as geographical expansions of The Courtauld’s remit and mission. And as an afficionado and disciple of the School of Paris , Sarah Wilson considers its hospitality and discourse for artists from all over the world, before as well as after 1989 as vitally contemporary, when artists such as André Fougeron, Claude Parent and Carlo Cruz Diez star in this year’s Liverpool Biennale together with younger generations. Her continuing networking and conference project, Globalisation before globalisation: academies, avant-gardes, revolutions, has political as well as artistic dimensions, extending from Paris to the world-wide Comintern network, to the forthcoming first Asian biennale (China: Guangzhou) and back to Barbara Kruger’s superlatively democratic message for Magiciens de la Terre in 1989.
Material Matters: Looking Through Paintings
Delivered by Professor Aviva Burnstock (Head of Conservation and Technology, The Courtauld Institute of Art), on Tuesday, 4 November 2014.
Technical and material examination of paintings can reveal aspects of artistic process and practice and highlight how images have changed. Thus technical evidence can inform historical interpretation of works of art and influence decisions about conservation and display. The lecture will highlight examples of paintings where technical examination has yielded important evidence about making, history and condition, and cases where interpretation is key.
Interior Fictions: Dressing-gowns and Shipwrecks in Diderot’s ‘Regrets’
Delivered by Professor Katie Scott (Professor of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art), on Tuesday, 18 November 2014.
We regret that a recording of Katie Scott’s lecture is not available.
Dyeing, Bleaching, Printing: Morris and Abundance
Delivered by Professor Caroline Arscott (Professor of Nineteenth-century British Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art), on Tuesday, 2 December 2014.
William Morris addressed themes of nature’s abundance and envisioned integrated social systems that would allow all to access plenty. His understanding of beauty was linked to these ideas about the natural world and social organisation. This lecture looks at the way that colour and dyestuffs in the Morris & Co. printed fabrics contribute to the aesthetic effect and can be understood to have social significance. It looks at the multi-colour printing methods that were developed in the Morris & Co workshops. The lecture considers the poetics of the indigo discharge process by making reference to allegorical allusions to dyeing, bleaching and printing in William Morris’s own late romance The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897).