2011 College Art Association Annual Conference, New York
IAS-Sponsored Session

Artists’ Biographies from Antiquity to the Present (short session)

Rendezvous Trianon, 3rd Floor, Hilton New York
Friday, February 11, 2011, 12:30-2:00pm

Organizer and Chair: Anne Leader, Savannah College of Art and Design–Atlanta

From Pliny to Bellori to Cavalcaselle, Italian authors and audiences have been fascinated with artists’ biographies.  Most famously, Vasari’s Lives of the Artists exemplifies the notion of the construction of an artist’s identity through a recording of his artistic merit and valor in a biographical form emulating ancient and hagiographical writers.  This constructed identity in turn imparts authenticity, legitimacy, and value to the art and its maker. While works of art with concrete attribution often still receive privileged attention, attribution, of course, no longer frames much of the discourse of the discipline.  This session seeks to query the notion, function, and complex relationship of the artist’s biography in the reception of works of art.  Does the presence of an artist’s biography delimit a work of art’s reception?  Does the absence of an artist’s biography free a monument of constricting parameters of interpretation or create a void of consideration of artistic intention. How does the relationship between biography and art shift across time?


Lauren Hackworth Petersen, University of Delaware
“Why Have There Been No Great Roman Artists?”
Robert G. La France, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“Dispelling Vasari’s Myths: The Lives of Timoteo Viti and Raphael”
Christopher G. Bennett, University of Southern California
“Arazzi: Alighiero Boetti and Afghanistan”
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