Third Early Modern Symposium


Art Against the Wall

Saturday, 19 November 2011

10.00 - 17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre (with registration from 9.30 am)

The Courtauld Institute of Art


Fireplace with sculpture of birds (swan?)
Anon. Fireplace with sculpture of birds, Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, 19th century. Source: Conway Library, The Courtauld Institute ofArt

Speaker(s): Gerry Abalone (Tate), Adriano Aymonino (independent scholar), Susannah Brooke (Queens’ College, Cambridge), Rodrigo Cañete (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Kevin Childs (British School at Rome), Dario Donetti (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), Francesco Freddolini (Getty Research Institute), Friederike Drinkuth (Stately Palaces and Gardens Mecklenburg), Meriel May Geolot (independent scholar), Kristina Kleutghen (Washington University, St Louis), Marika T. Knowles (Yale University),Tobias Locker (Technische Universität, Berlin), Catherine McCormack (UCL)



Ticket/entry details:
  £15 (£10 students) Please send a cheque made payable to ‘Courtauld Institute of Art’ to: Research Forum Events Co-ordinator, Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art , Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, clearly stating that you wish to book for the ‘Art against the Wall’ symposium. For credit card bookings call 020 7848 2785 (9.30 – 18.00, weekdays only). For further information, send an email to ResearchForumEvents@courtauld.ac.uk

Organised by: Thomas Balfe and Jocelyn Anderson (The Courtauld Institute of Art)


Art Against the Wall is the third symposium of The Courtauld’s Early Modern department. The symposium will provide an occasion for established and emerging scholars to present and discuss their research together.

This one-day symposium will explore the relationship between walls and art in early modern visual culture. During the period 1550-1850 the interplay between work and wall became increasingly complex as art objects began to pull away from the walls which had previously defined them. The enduring association between artistic skill and craft production meant that many art works were often still regarded as elements in overarching decorative schemes; paintings installed in eighteenth-century English domestic interiors, for example, continue to be described as part of the ornamentation, even as the furniture, of a room. Conversely, walls now had the power to redefine art works, giving them a new meaning through a new context; thus, in late sixteenth-century debates on the status of the religious image, walls – which map the division between sacred and secular space – take on crucial importance. Yet the wall could also become art, as the numerous examples of trompe l'oeil wall illustration to be found in seventeenth-century architecture and garden design suggest. Taking as its point of departure Derrida's insight that there can be no clear separation of ergon (work) from parergon (not-the-work, 'wall'), the symposium will attempt to investigate the rich questions raised by the phenomenon of art against the wall.



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