Thursday, March 10, 2011


Last Friday I went to the afternoon half of the 8th Annual Graduate Student Symposium in 19th-Century Art, organized by the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA). I enjoy going to this symposium because I like to hear some of the projects that other graduate students and PhD candidates are working on. I wrote about this conference in 2010 and 2009 (when I gave a paper on the Ottoman Turks at the Great Exhibition of 1851). I do regret having missed one paper in the morning session on representations of King Louis-Philippe of France during the July Monarchy (1830-1848), but the papers I did hear later on were interesting.

Jennifer Chuong (MIT) gave a theoretical talk about the late 18th-century botanical and animal prints of William Bartram and their connections with the social-politics of the day. Barbara Caen (Universität Zürich) gave a museum-style talk on French and German weavers who had emigrated to the US to work in 3 different tapestry manufacturing firms in NY and NJ in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Hélène Valance (Université Paris 7 Diderot) gave a thought-provoking presentation on night and darkness in late 19th-century American painting. Two of my co-students at the CUNY Graduate Center presented as well. Mary Zawadzki spoke about travel imagery in the American children's periodical St. Nicholas Magazine, and Leslie Anderson gave an insightful talk about how early 19th-century Danish artists painting themselves at leisure can be seen as a form of freedom away from their academic training. Finally, Christina Ferando (Columbia)--a fellow sculpture historian whom I've met up with in New Haven, Rome, Washington, D.C., and now NY!--presented a great talk on Antonio Canova's Penitent Magdalene (image above, from Web Gallery of Art) and how French critics evolved in their appreciation of it from a despised object to a symbol of nationalism. Her PowerPoint presentation was excellent too, reminding me of the importance of showing multiple viewpoints when looking at figurative sculpture in the round.

Even though the College Art Association just ended its NYC conference, they've already released the call for papers (CFP) for the 2012 conference, which will be held in Los Angeles next February. I had gotten confused, thinking NYC was the 100th conference, but in fact the organization turned 100 last year and 2012 will be the centenary conference (got that?). Interestingly, the CFP seems to confirm the "crisis in art history," that new students only want to study contemporary art now. More than 50% of the sessions in the CFP relate to 20th-century and contemporary art. I find that disheartening, but it does reflect the dominant mood of the art market and museums/galleries around the world. Nevertheless, there are a few promising sessions on the CFP, one of which is seriously tempting me to submit a proposal (can you guess which one?)...
** "Other Histories of Photography: The First One Hundred Years" (hm...sounds like the influence of Geoffrey Batchen!)
** "Where the Bodies Lie: Landscapes of Mourning, Memory, and Concealment" (cemeteries, funerary monuments)
** "Impressionisms: From the Forest of Fontainebleau to the American West" (French and other 'Impressionist' art movements)
** "Classicizing the Other" (rubric of classical antiquity on racial/ethnic others)
** "Future Directions in the History of British Art" (celebrating 20 years of the Historians of British Art)

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