104th College Art Association Annual Conference, 2016, Washington, D.C., February 3-6, 2016

The Italian Art Society hosted the following short session on 5 February 2016 at 12:30 pm in the Maryland Suite, Lobby Level:

“Rethinking the Rhetoric and Force of Images”

Co-chairs: Robert Williams (UC Santa Barbara) and Anna Marazuela Kim (Courtauld Institute of Art).

The relation of the visual arts to linguistic artifice – poetry or rhetoric – has long been an issue of fundamental art-theoretical and art-historical concern, with roots in antiquity. Filtered through varied conceptual vocabularies and disciplines through the centuries, it has been framed and re-framed in terms of “figure” and “discourse,” “image” and “word,” and “iconicity” and “narrativity” or “discursivity.” Closely related are more recent attempts to redefine the study of art history around the distinctive “power” or “force” of visual images, drawing upon fields such as anthropology and phenomenology. A new phase of engagement with the issue was inaugurated with the near simultaneous publication of David Freedberg’s Power of Images (1989) and Hans Belting’s Bild und Kult (1990). The intervening quarter-century has seen a proliferation of efforts to engage this issue and the emergence of formally constituted “methods,” exemplified, for example, by Belting’s Bild-Anthropologie and Horst Bredekamp’s formulation of Bildwissenschaft. There has also been critical pushback against these moves, even from those sympathetic in principle to the possibility of a phenomenological art history.

Italian art – whether ancient, medieval, renaissance, baroque or modern – has been one of the principal grounds on which this issue has been debated. This session aims to assess the ways in which recent developments have shaped our understanding of it and perhaps offer promising new avenues of approach, not only to the art of Italy, but also to art history more generally. In what ways does the emphasis on the force of images ally our discipline more strongly with fields such as media studies, literature, philosophy and/or the sciences? How has it usefully moved the discipline beyond the social histories of art that once dominated the field or worked in conjunction with these? What are the stakes of this issue in an era increasingly mediated by virtual images?


Klaus Krüger, Freie Universität Berlin: “The Evidence of Images”

Jeanette Kohl, UC Riverside: “Truth and Presence: the Power of Portraits in Renaissance Italy”

Marius Hauknes, John Hopkins University: “The Phenomenology of the Mural”

Nicola Suthor,Yale University: “Why Phenomenology Matters: Husserl’s ‘Fantasy, Image-Consciousness, and Memory’”


The Italian Art Society hosted the following long session on Friday, 5 February 2016 at 9:30 am in Room Washington 1, Exhibition Level:

“Beyond Texts and Academies: Rethinking the Education of the Early Modern Italian Artist”

Chair and organizer: Jesse Locker (Portland State University).

Historians of early modern Italian art are naturally drawn to the “doctus artifex”—that is, the paradigmatic learned artist who had at his disposal a variety of textual and visual sources that informed not only the subject-matter of his work, but also the particular form that work took. While there were of course many artists who fit this category—including Mantegna, Raphael, and Domenichino—recent research has shown that the vast majority of artists—among them, Filippo Lippo, Cavalier d’Arpino, and Artemisia Gentileschi—received next to no formal education outside the workshop. A surprising number of even well known artists were barely literate. Yet even these artists were capable of creating sophisticated and apparently erudite artworks that incorporated literary, mythological, and historical themes, and that reflected contemporary theoretical debates. This panel seeks to look beyond the text, and beyond the proverbial “humanist advisor,” to reconsider how early modern artists—especially those with little schooling—were exposed to and engaged with “high” culture of their day.


James Hutson (Lindenwood University) – “Li pittori parlano con l’opere: Poetry and Practice in the Academic Tradition”

Kim Butler Wingfield (American University)- “Imitation and Assimilation: Raphael as Court Artist”

Sarah Blake McHam (Rutgers University) – “Piero di Cosimo: A Puzzling Case of an Unlearned Artist

Creating Learned Art”

Jessica Boehman (LaGuardia Community College) – “Ercole Ferrata’s Studio as Rome’s Sculpture School”

Lara Yeager-Crasselt (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute) – “Practice and Patronage in the Roman Palace: The Education of Artists under Camillo Pamphilj”