New Approaches to Ruskin on Art and Architecture

Please note there are 2 days of this conference that require separate bookings. You can book the second day, at The Courtauld, by using the link to the right. You will need to register for day one, at UCL, by clicking here

‘Nature always looks strange when she is truly rendered, and is always doing what none of us expect from her’.

John Ruskin, Academy Notes (1858).

‘Ruskinian seeing is a set of conversions—from surface phenomena to essences or qualities to energies and finally to a pervasive sentient energy or mind of which all things are manifestations […] This yielding of perception to conception and thought to feeling I take to be the distinguishing character of Ruskinian phenomenology, succinctly adumbrated in the well-known phrase “intellectual lens and moral [that is, emotional] retina” (4, 36)’.

Paul L. Sawyer, Ruskin’s Poetic Argument: The Design of the Major Works (1985).

In advance of his bicentenary in 2019 this conference will provide the opportunity to gather together, present and exchange new approaches by emerging scholars to the work of the nineteenth-century art critic, art writer, art historian, artist and social commentator John Ruskin, with particular emphasis on his work on art and architecture as understood to constitute the kernel of Ruskin’s engagement with human society and experience. Since the time of their publication, which spanned the Victorian era, Ruskin’s writings have provided ways of thinking about the relationships between art and architecture, society and nature. Ruskin’s writings are finding a new readership and critical currency given the emphasis now placed in the arts and humanities on environment, ecology, climate change, organicism and the ‘anthropocene’. What of Ruskin’s draughtsmanship and his pronouncements on art and architecture in this new light? If Ruskin is finding a place within contemporary discourses of the ‘non-human’, such as architect Lars Spuybroek’s 2011 (revised 2016) manifesto for the construction of digital-Gothic cities The Sympathy of Things, this conference will also consider where Ruskin on art and architecture can take academic discussion about the place of the human being in a now-imperilled nature and an uncertain world.

This event is supported by the Ruskin Society.

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