Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

How Words Color Pictures: Critical language and the perception of late antique art

Fri, February 10, 2012 | ART 1.120

5:00 PM

The Workshop on Late Antiquity presents:

How Words Color Pictures: Critical language and the perception of late antique art

Sarah Basset (Indiana)
Friday, February 10, 2012
5:00 PM
ART 1.102

It is a truth universally observed that Roman art in the period between Augustus and Justinian follows a formal trajectory that moves from “naturalism” to “abstraction”, and that this formal shift is in turn symptomatic of a larger change in cultural orientation, one that is understood to abandon the corporeal and the rational in favor of the incorporeal and the spiritual.  The aim of this lecture is to examine this formula. It will begin by identifying the origin of the equation of naturalism with rationality and abstraction with spirituality in the modern critical and historiographic traditions of the early 20th century.  From there it will explore the ways in which this intellectual construct has guided the modern evaluation and understanding of late antique art.  Finally, it will consider the possibility of an alternative critical language, one rooted in the late antique vocabularies of rhetoric and literary criticism, with the aim of suggesting how the use of such terminology might shape new understandings of late antique art and visual experience.






Sponsored by: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Art & Art history

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