the healing presence of art



Friday, 20 April 2012

18.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

The Madonna della Misericordia holds her arms open to embrace those in need
Piero della Francesca, Madonna della Misericordia, detail of Misericordia Polyptych, 1445–61, Pinacoteca Comunale, Sansepolcro

Speaker(s): Richard Cork (art critic, historian, broadcaster, exhibition curator, and former Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University and Senior Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Deborah Swallow

Richard Cork gives an illustrated talk about his new book, a richly illustrated history of western art in hospitals.

Between birth and death, many of life's most critical moments occur in hospital, and they deserve to take place in surroundings that match their significance. In this spirit, from the early Renaissance through to the modern period, artists have made immensely powerful work in hospitals across the western world, enhancing the environments where patients and medical staff strive towards better health. Distinguished art historian Richard Cork became fascinated by the extraordinary richness of art produced in hospitals, encompassing work by many of the great masters – Piero della Francesca, Rogier van der Weyden, El Greco, William Hogarth, Jacques-Louis David, Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Fernand Leger, Marc Chagall and Naum Gabo. Cork's brilliant survey discovers the astonishing variety of images found in medical settings, ranging from dramatic confrontations with suffering (Matthias Grunewald at Isenheim) to the most sublime celebrations of heavenly ecstasy (Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in Venice). In the process, he reveals art's prodigious ability to humanise our hospitals, alleviate their clinical bleakness and leave a profound, lasting impression on patients, staff and visitors.

Richard Cork is an award-winning art critic, historian, broadcaster, exhibition curator, and former Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University and Senior Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London.



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