Caroline Villers Research Fellows Double LEcture


Dr Jim Harris and Dr Pia Gottschaller

Thursday, 25 October 2012

18.00 - 19.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Aviva Burnstock


Lecture I: ‘What are we that you should care for us?’   Painting and Repainting Monuments of the English Reformation

Speaker(s): Dr Jim Harris (Caroline Villers Research Fellow 2011-12, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Memorial effigy of Sir James Deane
Memorial effigy of Sir James Deane (1608), St Olave Hart Street, London. Photo © Jim Harris, by permission of St Olave Hart Street





During his tenure as 2011-12 Caroline Villers Research Fellow, Jim Harris has investigated two groups of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century tomb monuments in London churches, at St Margaret’s Westminster and St Olave Hart Street.  By examining the evidence preserved in the paint layers of their polychrome surfaces, the project has sought to understand something of the fate of these remarkable sculptures over the past four centuries and the ways in which their changing appearance has reflected shifting attitudes to colour in church interiors and to the objects that comprise the English liturgical environment.  This lecture will discuss the results of these technical examinations and consider the variety of ways in which their subjects have been cared for, or not cared for, during the course of their long lives.

Jim Harris took his BA, MA and PhD at The Courtauld Institute of Art where he was the Andrew W Mellon Foundation/Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow for 2011 and Caroline Villers Research Fellow for 2011-12. He was recently appointed Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in the University of Oxford, where he is continuing with research into English polychrome sculpture.


Lecture II: Drawing the Line: Straight Edges in Modern Abstract Art

Speaker(s): Dr Pia Gottschaller (Caroline Villers Research Fellow 2012-13, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

image of hand removing tape from a painted board
Photo courtesy reedstudio, New York



The conscious limiting of modern abstract painters to the use of colour, surface texture and mostly geometric forms in their art making meant that each of these individual compositional elements received unprecedented amounts of attention, by both the creator and observer. With the introduction of pressure-sensitive tape in Europe and the US in the late 1930s, artists were suddenly able to paint perfectly straight lines and edges of forms. Some artists, however, preferred to continue to painstakingly paint their lines free-hand, often with the argument that taped edges appear ‘anti-human’.

This lecture will present the project’s three main research topics: how do these technical choices relate to the meaning of selected artists’ work, among them Piet Mondrian, Ben Nicholson, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, John McLaughlin and Bridget Riley? What implications does the use or refusal of tape have for their actual artistic process? And how or to which degree do we, from a neuroesthetic point of view, perceive these very subtle differences?

Pia Gottschaller took a BA in art history from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and trained at The Courtauld Institute of Art to become a painting conservator (Dip 1997), then worked at the Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge (1997-1998), and at the Menil Collection, Houston, where she participated in the conservation of the Rothko Chapel murals (1998-2000). She received her Ph.D. in 2003 from Technische Universität Munich for a thesis on the painting technique of Blinky Palermo. 2003-2005 Associate Conservator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 2005-2007 Postdoc Research Fellow at Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome. 2009-2010 Assistant Fine Arts Director at German Academy Villa Massimo, Rome. Since 2011 freelance curator and author with a focus on postwar European and American art.




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