The Study of the Art and Architecture of Italy: A Reassessment of the Discipline: I-IV
These four linked sessions reconsidered fundamental assumptions underlying the current practice of medieval art history, including the temporal and geographic parameters bounding the study of “Italian medieval art,” the methodological structures of the field, the influences of key figures on the development of the discipline, and the privileged role of the urban environment in studies of the Italian peninsula. These sessions dovetailed with broader concerns current within the humanities, including a shift toward new geographical divisions, investigations of formerly neglected time periods, and a renewed engagement with the works of such pioneering scholars of medieval Italian art as Bernard Berenson, Arthur Kingsley Porter, Josef Strzygowski, Pietro Toesca, and Aby Warburg, and their successors, including Otto Demus, Ernst Kitzinger, Richard Krautheimer, and Mario Salmi.
From classical antiquity to the fifteenth century and beyond, the study of Italian art and architecture is locked into a narrative of continuity and tradition, disjunction and rupture. On a surface level, a geographic association with the peninsula and islands governed by the modern Italian state unifies scholars of Italian art. Although defined at the base level by contemporary geopolitics, this unity has historical depth in that it responds to the centrifugal role played by the art of Italy in the development of art history as a discipline and, more recently, to the questioning of the privilege given to specific moments in Italian art within the formation of our discipline. These sessions arise from the conviction that it is time to step back and examine critically the structures and methodologies of our field. What common elements of intellectual inquiry may bind the scholar of Early Christian Rome with the scholar of late medieval Florence? What points of intersection might exist between studies of a medieval town in the Val d’Aosta, Umbrian altarpieces, and the Islamic presence in South Italy, Corsica, and Sicily? These sessions sought to address such broad thematic issues as spatial, geographic, and temporal assumptions, historiography, and methodology, as we asked, What does it mean to be a historian of medieval Italian art?
Our four linked sessions proposed to address this question from four different thematic angles.
Sessions Sponsored by the Italian Art Society
Session Title: I: Seminal Figures
Thursday, May 12, 2011, 1:30-3:00pm
Presider: Alison Perchuk, Occidental College
Respondent: Catherine McCurrach, Wayne State University
Martina Bagnoli, Walters Art Museum, "'Prima conoscitori poi storici': Pietro Toesca, Italian Medieval Art, and America"
Niall Atkinson, University of Chicago, "Reoccupying Urban Space for Architectural History"
Session Title: II: Geographic Limits
Thursday, May 12, 2011, 3:30-5:00pm
Presider: Felicity Ratté
Nicole Paxton Sullo, Yale University, "Imagining Local Identity in Medieval Puglia: Narratives of Martyrdom and Baptism in the Rock-Cut Churches of Casalrotto"
Nicola Camerlenghi, University of Oregon, "The Mediterranean Origins of Medieval Italian Domes"
Jennifer D. Webb, University of Minnesota-Deluth, "Looking East: Rethinking Geographical Boundaries and Art Historical Categories by Way of Fifteenth-Century Art and Architecture in Italy and Dalmatia"
Roxann Prazniak, University of Oregon, "Tabriz as Cultural Context for Early Trecento Art"
Session Title: III: In Praise of Ambiguity
Friday, May 13, 2011, 1:30-3:00pm
Presider: Catherine McCurrach, Wayne State University
Karl Peter Whittington, Ohio State University, “Beyond Space and Narrative: Diagrammatic Painting in Fourteenth-Century Italy”
Ingrid Greenfield, University of Chicago, ”Can ‘African’ Mean ‘Italian’? Broadening the Historical Boundaries of Early Modern Collecting”
Session Title: IV: Urbanism
Friday, May 13, 3:30-5:00pm
Presider: Niall Atkinson, University of Chicago
Catherine McCurrach, Wayne State University, “A Thread in the Urban Fabric: The Parish Church in Medieval Rome”
James Fishburne, University of California-Los Angeles, “Depicting Urban Dominion: The Portrait Medals of Pope Julius II”
Rebekah Perry, University of Pittsburgh, “Civic Landscape, Sacred Journey: Tivoli’s Savior Triptych and the August Procession of the Inchinata”