Issue 18 : Autumn 2004
for Research Leave
John Lowden was successful in the AHRB Research Leave scheme to complete a project on the 'Later Descendants of the Bibles Moralisees. He began by transcribing and editing a long unpublished prefatory text that explains to a fifteenth-century reader of these french picture books the interpretation of some forty key words and ideas in the Bible, among which is 'butter: 'Job said "I shall wash my feet in butter"; Isaiah prophesied that Christ would eat butter and lard; cheese is very poor food for it is dry and the stomach cannot digest it. You need to know, it would seem, about butter of treason, butter of grace, butter of incorruption, butter of devotion, and butter of contemplation. Research can bring strange knowledge to light: six months left.
Susie Nash will be completing a book for the Oxford History of Art series entitled 'Art in Northern Europe: Methods, Media, Meanings. This work, structured thematically rather than chronologically, considers a wide range of different media, from tapestry and metalwork to prints and pilgrims badges, discussing extensive evidence concerning the nature and value of the materials used, how artists worked and how images were made, acquired, sold, valued and used. It challenges the accepted canon of art at this period, which remains still very focused on painting and often Italo-centric, by concentrating on little-known works, while also presenting new ways of viewing and understanding the more familiar, such as the paintings of Jan Van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. It aims to demonstrate that northern art, and particularly that of the Southern Netherlands, dominated visual culture throughout Europe at this period.
Sarah Wilsons Leverhulme Research Fellowship has been awarded for a project entitled The Visual World of French theory: Artists and intellectuals in Paris after 1958. It will be the sequel to Paris Rouge, and will deal with the artistic and intellectual scene from the Front Populaire to the beginning of the Fifth Republic. 1958-1981 is both the great period of 'French Theory, and the period of de-Stalinisation and neo-marxism in France. Paradoxically Mitterands accession to power in 1981 saw the collapse of the oppositional ideology of a generation of left wing artists. In most art history curricula, this period remains a complete blank — despite the fact that Barthès, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva and company all wrote about the visual arts. Issues covered include what Jacques Derrida called 'Spectres of Marx, the 'new world of Barthès Mythologies, the impact of the Algerian war and May 68 on the visual arts, the debate between stucturalism and psychoanalysis played out in the works of the Supports-Surfaces group, the involvement of Lyotard and Foucault with the 'Narrative Figuration movement; French feminism, its artists and its failure; and Paris and its strangers, involving Pariss memory as dealt with by philosophers such as Blanchot or Auge, artists such as Jochen Gerz, writers such as Tahar Ben Jelloun.