UC Berkeley History of Art Department


Departmental Events

Modern Money: Aesthetics After the Gold Standard (Day One)

– 6:00 pm | 11/06/2014

November 6 || 10:00 am-6:00 pm
November 7 || 3:00 pm-6:00 pm
308A Doe Library

Organized by Jordan Rose (Berkeley) and Scott Ferguson (University of South Florida)

“Money,” T. J. Clark has written, “is the root form of representation in bourgeois society. Threats to monetary value are threats to signification in general." Clark's proposition, almost aphoristic in its phrasing, turns on the kinds of questions it raises, about markets and money flows, about value and its abstraction, about whom money belongs to, about the “social reality of the Sign” and the effect money has on art-making. By the statement’s end, money becomes a central form – maybe the central form – of modern life. Over the last 15 years – the sentences come from 1999’s Farewell to an Idea – the urgency of Clark's questions has only intensified, obliging us, in turn, to confront them anew. “Modern Money” initiates this process by asking participants to consider the effect a turn toward state and credit theories of money – away, as it were, from the standard commodity theories – has on our dealings with art and aesthetics. What happens, in other words, to our understanding of value, and of social practice, if we come to recognize some distance between the social relations of the production of commodities and the social relations of the production of money?

The first day, the 6th, will consist of three panels addressing the art and money nexus. The second, which turns the table, will feature a talk by Yanis Varoufakis (Professor of Economics, University of Athens, and Visiting Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin).

A multimedia installation by Danae Stratou will accompany the conference. (November 3-November 7, 308A Doe Library)

Sponsored by the Department of History of Art. Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Arts Research Center, the Department of Rhetoric, and the Department of History.

Conference Schedule

9:30-10:00 – Breakfast/Coffee

10:00-10:10 – Introduction

10:10-11:30 – Panel One

Todd Barnes (Ramapo College of New Jersey), “Striking Our Debt to Moral Tragedy: Money in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar'”

Edwin Harvey (Miami University), “(Silver) Dollars: A Chartalist Iconography of Charles Willson Peale’s Mrs. Thomas McKean”

11:30-1:00 – Lunch

1:00-2:50 – Panel Two

Richard Taws (University College London), “Paris in Code: Signs of Value in Post-Revolutionary France”

Jordan Rose (University of California, Berkeley), “The Debtor’s Frockcoat”

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (University of California, Berkeley), “Paper, Metal and the Civil War”

2:50-3:30 – Coffee break

3:30-5:20 – Panel Three

Danny Marcus (University of California, Berkeley) and Daniel Spaulding (Yale University), “Modernism and Capitalism, a Correspondence”

Cecilia Wee (Royal College of Art), “If Information Makes Money, Does Sharing Destroy It?”

Scott Ferguson (University of South Florida), “Risking Abstraction”

5:20-6:00 – Reception