frank davis memorial lecture

Resistance and Interpretation: Disciplinary Perspectives

Art-Archaeology: The Materiality of Classical Art History

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Greek sculptural fragments including figure of man carrying calf on his shioulders
Famous Greek sculptural fragments on the Acropolis, Athens, soon after excavation (anonymous photograph, 1866?)

Speaker(s): Dr Peter Stewart (Reader in Classical Art and its Heritage, and Acting Dean, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Francesco Lucchini

All art history involves inherent tensions between the materiality of the works of art – their rootedness in time and space – and the mobility of the ideas and imagery that they embody. The tension is all the more striking in the study of ancient art. On the one hand, classical art history, with its traditional dependence on archaeology, deals with perishable, intractable objects dug up in particular places. On the other hand, it has always been concerned with the intangible spread of Graeco-Roman styles and iconography, with abstract typologies, material and visual cultures and how they transcend material constraints. This lecture explores some of the forms of material resistance which have filtered our experience of ancient art, including the accidents of archaeological survival. But such limitations affect not only the objects that we study, but also the processes of studying them. Our construction of the past, the books and articles we read and write, the photographs we reproduce or view, the dissemination of ideas on paper or on the web... These too have their hidden material constraints.

Dr Peter Stewart is Reader in Classical Art and its Heritage and Acting Dean at The Courtauld Institute of Art. He previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Reading. His publications include, Statues in Roman Society (2003), Roman Art (2004), and The Social History of Roman Art (2008).

This series proposes a range of ways of approaching the specific resistance found in objects of enquiry, calling attention to the ways in which contemporary scholarship attends to the conditions that set up resistances with respect to disciplinary investigation. Distinguished scholars from different disciplinary traditions are invited to consider how the notion of resistance is dealt with in their field of research and reflect on the ways in which material and cultural factors inhibit or disturb smooth assimilation of artefacts and cultural activities into theory and predetermined categories of interpretation.

Sponsored by the FM Kirby Foundation

Back to Events Calendar