Conferences & Lectures - Kress

Babette Bohn, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth

"'Il fenomeno bolognese'" rivisto: Donne artiste a Bologna tra Quattrocento e Settecento"

Location: Alma Mater Studiorum, Universita di Bologna

The eighth annual IAS/Kress Italian Lecture series took place on 7 June 2017 and was delivered in Italian. Babette Bohn (Texas Christian University, Fort Worth Texas) was the featured lecturer. 

Bologna produced more women artists than any other Italian city during the early modern period. This presentation analyzes why Bologna was uniquely receptive to women and considers the characteristics that set Bolognese women apart from their contemporaries elsewhere, challenging some existing assumptions about how women became artists during this period. Key factors include unusual artistic patronage, local legends about learned women, and the growing acceptance of female students who were not family members in male painters’ workshops. Beginning with Malvasia in 1678, local writers created a new genre of literary encomia celebrating female artistic achievement, an oxymoron in an age that defined artistic invention as male. Bolognese male writers turned the accomplishments of their female compatriots into cultural capital for promulgating Bologna’s greatness. Bolognese women’s achievements included a shift from portraiture to history painting, numerous public commissions, and unusual diversity, including painters, printmakers, embroiderers, and even sculptors. They are also distinctive for their engagement with drawing, which linked all these female artists with the intellectual claims of disegno, fomenting a novel understanding of female creativity.

The lecture was held in the Aula Magna of the former monastery of Santa Cristina that now houses the Department of the Arts –Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, in Bologna, Italy and was followed by a light reception. 

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