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College Art Association Meetings, New York, February 11-14, 2015

6:00 pm | 2/11/2015Until 8:00 pm | 2/14/2015

Lisa Trever
Session: Divine Impersonators: Substance and Presence of Precolumbian Embodiments
Paper: Painted, Performed, Scratched: Divine Encounters in Moche Art and Image
Time: 02/13/2015, 2:30 PM—5:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Nassau Suite

The study of ancient religious experience in coastal Peru does not benefit from the decipherment of hieroglyphic inscriptions. The earliest Spanish chronicles and Quechua narratives are only of limited use in interpreting traditions of the deeper past. Without reliable recourse to texts, such study must turn its attention to image, object, and material. This paper presents a three-fold set of ancient Moche objects and images that may illuminate practices of engagement with what one might call divine beings: a fineline, stirrup-spout bottle in Berlin; a set of ceramic masks portraying a fanged protagonist known as Ai Apaec; and images of serpents and owls scratched into whitewashed temple walls at Huaca de la Luna and Huaca Cao. Considered together, this visual-material assemblage may provide insight into ancient ritual performance and practices of visionary perception, as marked through narrative representation (the Berlin vase), evidence of embodiment (masks), and haptic recording (so-called graffiti).


Andrew Griebeler
Session: The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy
Paper: The Serpent Column Revisited
Time: 02/14/2015, 9:30 AM—12:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 3rd Floor, West Ballroom

The serpent column in Istanbul is among the few surviving examples of the monumental talismans that once dotted the city. This paper addresses the circumstances and associations underlying the serpent column’s recognition as a talisman against snakes and snakebites in the 1390s. In doing so, it relates the serpent column to other Byzantine medical talismans, toxicology, and serpent biology. As the column became a talisman, this network of associations played out and embedded itself within a shifting urban landscape. The column’s particular relation to local space and its idiosyncratic ability to enact these associations visually predicated contemporaries’ recognition of it as a talisman. In this way, the serpent column demonstrates the crucial role that visual form, sense perception (especially touch), and affective response play in the recognition of talismans. Once habituated as a talisman, the serpent column instantiates a local logic of contagion and mimesis. Drawing upon Michael Taussig’s work on mimesis, I suggest that the talisman was seen to appropriate natural forces and replicate them as a second nature. As a result, the serpent column is less “an image against nature,” a manmade signifier that negates the natural signified, than it is an image as nature.

Imogen Hart
Session: Science Is Measurement? Nineteenth-Century Science, Art, and Visual Culture
Paper: Sculpture in the Age of Darwin
Time: 02/14/2015, 2:30 PM—5:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Madison Suite

Sculpture has received comparatively little attention in the recent turn toward evolutionary theory among historians of nineteenth-century art. This paper considers this neglected field, focusing on late-nineteenth-century sculpture in Britain and the United States. It aims to demonstrate that sculpture makes a distinct contribution to the current dialogue about Darwinism and the visual arts. The paper argues that sculpture’s methods and materials, its close relationship with decoration, and the contested status of ideal sculpture in the period all have important implications for evolutionary debates. It analyzes the use of evolutionary language in nineteenth-century sculpture criticism, exploring how these texts shed light on sculpture’s engagement with Darwinian themes.

Jordan Rose
Session: Comic Modern
Paper: Daumier’s Money Pictures
Time: 02/14/2015, 9:30 AM—12:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Trianon Ballroom

This paper reconceptualizes the caricatural strategies of Honoré Daumier by focusing on the image of money in his lithographs. Generally speaking, caricature continues to be examined within the framework of the canivalesque, the world turned upside down. The figure of money in Daumier’s oeuvre – and here “money” refers not only to cash and coin, but also to such derivative things as pawnshop tickets, stock certificates, and advertising copy – reveals a different kind of comic operation, an alternative course of movement and exposition, one that proceeds, as it were, inside out rather than bottom to top. In a word, Daumier’s is a critical practice, matter of fact and worldly, partial, tugged and shaped by pessimism; it wages a war over history in the realm of representation.

Elaine Yau
Session: Handwriting and American Art
Paper: Words of Fulfillment: Practice and Performance in the Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan
Time: 02/12/2015, 12:30 PM—2:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Nassau Suite

The proliferation of writing has been a pronounced aspect of Sister Gertrude Morgan’s paintings and drawings, one that has been frequently observed, yet under investigated, as a sign of religious fervor by critics of self-taught art. My paper refines this broad assessment of Morgan’s writing by historicizing it within two coterminous arenas: the spiritual economy of post-WWII African American Holiness-Pentecostal belief and practice, and market economy for folk art in the early 1970s….I situate Morgan’s writing as a performative act of spiritual labor alongside the requirements of materiality, legibility, and visuality of which Morgan, who was producing these artworks for sale, was aware (and variously met). By triangulating Morgan’s handwriting with imperatives of religious belief and artistic production, this paper stresses considerations of vernacular performance to challenge the exoticizing and romantic tendencies that permeate the study of self-taught art in the United States.

Lauren Kroiz
Session: New Genealogies of American Modernism at Midcentury
Paper: “Almost to Defy Classification”: Horace Pippin and Ad Reinhardt
Time: 02/14/2015, 2:30 PM—5:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 3rd Floor, East Ballroom

In 1946, Ad Reinhardt instructed viewers “How to Look at Modern Art in America” with a family tree – a structure used to schematize biological inheritance. However, Reinhardt’s diagram strikingly undermined racial categories. His organization of artists’ surnames by style and subject matter scattered African Americans often grouped together as members of the Harlem Renaissance. Beginning from Reinhardt’s strange placement of the self-trained painter Horace Pippin as a flying bird among modern art’s leaves, my study considers Reinhardt’s early 1940s anti-racist illustrations and the wider 1940s reception of Pippin’s painting in order to demonstrate the ways formal aesthetic categories operated alongside and at odds with those of race in American modernism at midcentury. I explore the ways Reinhardt’s and Pippin’s artwork threatened both aesthetic and racial taxonomies to analyze why and how artistic genealogies can be productively constructed and challenged.  

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