Research Forum Visiting Conservator Lecture

Modes of Replication and the Loss of the Original: Processes of Art Making in Pre-Modern Europe

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

17.30 - 18.45, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Four Reliquary Busts of Female Saints
Four Reliquary Busts of Female Saints, South Netherlandish, early 16th C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.728); The Cloisters Collection, 1976 (1976.89); Bequest of Susan Vanderpoel Clark, 1967 (67.155.23); The Cloisters Collection, 1959 (59.70). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Speaker(s): Michele Marincola (Sherman Fairchild Chairman and Professor Conservation, Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professors Aviva Burnstock and Susie Nash

Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility’ draws a distinction between the autonomous aesthetic experience generated by unique art objects of the pre-modern era, and the effect on the viewer of mechanically reproducible media of the twentieth century, especially photography and film. This lecture will seek to complicate his differentiation by looking closely at the processes of production in pre-modern art, in particular for a group of objects we might term ‘unique multiples’. Examples of serial sculpture-making from the Renaissance to the 19th century suggest that the reproduction of works of art was concerned with more than simply the imitation of an original image. For certain types of pre-modern objects, it can be argued that an original does not even exist, a situation more familiar to us from contemporary art.

Michele D. Marincola is Sherman Fairchild Chairman and Professor of Conservation of the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  She is also part-time Conservator for The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and coordinates conservation for the Acton Collection at Villa la Pietra in Florence (NYU).  She has lectured and published widely on the techniques and conservation of medieval sculpture, conservation ethics and theory, and is currently working on a book on the treatment of polychrome wood sculpture.

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