CfP: Biographies of Early Modern Works of Art, CAA 2017
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Posted by: Evan Carmouche
Museum-goers looking at art within gallery spaces view, frequently unbeknownst to themselves, not the pristine state of new-born objects, but rather their mature state — that moment akin to the cosmeticized appearance of a successful adult’s public body. While the didactic information generally shared with visitors on wall displays tends to be more transparent now than in the past, the complex vicissitudes of an object’s life history remain difficult to fully perceive. Most scholars know, however, that a huge percentage of Old Master museum objects have undergone restoration and conservation treatments throughout the centuries and particularly during the golden age of collecting and the art market during the decades before and after 1900.
This panel seeks papers that offer case studies of painting, sculpture and decorative art demonstrating the additions, subtractions, and alterations made, for purposes of religious efficacy, aesthetic pleasure, conservation and, not least, successful marketing, during the course of an object’s life history. In addition, papers are welcome that confront the legitimacy, social context, and theoretical framework of such interventions, as well as proposals for viewing and display strategies that promote a more informed encounter between the museum object and the visitor. Is it possible to view a work in a gallery space with a dual vision: the object’s present material state as well as — based on visual clues within or didactic information auxiliary to the object — its life history, in order to appreciate both the authentic, i.e., original and the less than authentic elements before one’s eyes?
Deadline: August 30, 2016. For more information see the full call for papers (PDF).