A history of detail – or thinking small

This talk addresses the crisis of scale in contemporary criticism. Taking a cue from Foucault’s remark that he wanted to write a History of Detail – a project that could be seen to emerge in part as response to the events of 1968 but which he never executed – I ask what it might involve now to think from the vantage point of the marginal incident. The focus is the artist Vija Celmins, but a historiography of detail is also discussed from Foucault through Proust and others.

Briony Fer is Professor of History of Art. She graduated from Sussex University with BA Hons in History of Art (major) with French (minor) in 1979. She then went on to the Department of History of History and Theory of Art at Essex University where her doctoral research on the Russian and French avant-gardes was supervised by Professor Dawn Ades and Professor Michael Podro. She was awarded her PhD in 1988.

In 1980 she joined the History of Art Department at the Open University as a Lecturer working on groundbreaking courses there and publishing essays in the Modernity and Modernism textbooks, published jointly by the Open University and Yale University Press in 1993.

She joined University College in 1990 and was made a Reader in 1997 and Professor in 2005. She has published extensively on 20th century and contemporary art

6:00pm, 15 Jan 2018

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