The intelligent hand, 1500-1800

Sixth Early Modern Symposium

Saturday, 8 November 2014

timings to be advised, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Painted self portrait of a man in a convex mirror

Parmigianino (1503-1540), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1523/4. Oil on panel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Speaker(s): to be advised

Ticket/entry details: to be advised

Organised by: Austeja MacKelaite and Camilla Pietrabissa

The hand - the “instrument of instruments” - has fascinated artists, scientists and philosophers from Aristotle onwards. Its remarkable dexterity, anatomical complexity, and the ability to manipulate were seen as defining features distinguishing humanity from animality, as well as indicators of the superiority of the former.

Taking as its starting point the sixteenth-century humanist Dominicus Lampsonius’ claim that ‘the Netherlander / Has intelligence in his hand’, this one-day Symposium will investigate the hand both as the means and the subject of representation in Early Modern art and visual culture.

Participants are invited to explore the hand as the locus where the relations between manual labour and ingenium, workshop and academy, the ‘low’ and the ‘high’ are defined and negotiated in the production of artistic value and new knowledge. Traditionally held to be subordinate to the creative drive of the mind, the artist's hand may also be considered as an autonomous agent, manifesting itself on the surface of artworks through individual style, the manipulation of media or as an iconographic motif


Further details to follow....

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