Illuminare – Centre for the Study of Medieval Art (University of Leuven), Belgium, 11-13 January 2017
Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2016
The twentieth symposium for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting will be held in Leuven in the context of the major exhibition In Search of Utopia. In 1516, Thomas More (1478- 1535), humanist, statesman and ambassador of Henry VIII of England, published his book Utopia at the renowned printing house established by Dirk Martens in the university city of Leuven. To mark the quincentenary of this milestone in Europe’s intellectual and cultural history the city of Leuven and University of Leuven are mounting In Search of Utopia.
The conference will focus on sixteenth-century Northern art, with special emphasis on painting, sculpture, manuscripts and mixed media, from a variety of approaches. We have extended the original, more technical scope of the symposium to include art historical and iconological perspectives as to reveal the multifarious nature of the sixteenth century. After successful editions on Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck among others, this symposium will focus on the period in-between the ‘Flemish Primitives’ and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The latter will be the topic of the XXIst edition hosted by KIK-IRPA (Brussels) in 2018.
The symposium calls for papers on art-technical research on Northern Renaissance art based on innovative imaging and analytical techniques (Imaging Utopia, Utopian Imaging). Contributions that explore artist or workshop practice in painting, illumination, sculpture and mixed media objects are welcome. The aim of the conference is to consider how new imaging and analytical techniques can contribute to a better understanding of the arts during this highly dynamic period. Special attention will be paid to mixed media in sixteenth-century art by focussing on the Mechelen Enclosed Garden research and conservation project. In honour of this project, Mechelen will be the venue of the first day of the conference. We also aim to contextualize the artistic impact of intellectual shifts and expanding worldviews that emerged during the first decades of the sixteenth century (Humanism, Visual Culture and the Pursuit of Knowledge). This shift not only occurred in the minds of the humanists and intelligentsia, but can also be seen in the visual culture of this period. Poor life conditions and political instability engendered the desire to search for ideal places and perfect social circumstances. These phantasms had complex and multi-layered repercussions on the visual arts, such as the popular representations of ‘pleasant places’, loci amoeni (Locus Amoenus). However, these internal desires also resulted in ‘external’ expressions: the physical search for paradise on earth, such as the exploratory expeditions to the New World (Terra Incognita). These new horizons shaped the artistic representation of the ‘other’ and the ‘unknown’. At the same time, the artistic search to redeem these deeply-rooted desires produced visual antitypes of this kind of Utopian thinking, resulting in the most horrific scenes in which reality and fantasy are no longer antonyms (Dystopia).
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- New perspectives on technical art history and the Northern Renaissance
- New imaging and analytical tools and techniques applied on Northern Renaissance art
- The challenges of exploring, preserving and imaging sixteenth-century mixed media, with special emphasis on the Enclosed Gardens
- Visual Digital Humanities and Northern Renaissance art
- New perspectives on Utopian thinking and the art of the Northern Renaissance
- Major intellectual, scientific and religious shifts in the sixteenth century and their repercussions on visual culture and society
- The (re)creation of earthly and heavenly paradises in Northern Renaissance art
- The search for ‘untouched’ places in the New World
- Critical evaluations of representations of the ‘other’ and the ‘unknown’ in the visual arts
- Visual antitypes of Utopian artistic expressions
The partners of the XXth symposium are Illuminare – Centre for the Study of Medieval Art (University of Leuven), Erfgoed Mechelen (Museums & Heritage Mechelen) Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), KIK-IRPA (Brussels) and the Flemish Research Centre for the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands (Musea Brugge).
We welcome 20-minute papers that engage with these varied, but interconnected topics of research and, equally important, explore recent technological research methods, fresh methodologies and theoretical frameworks. We wish to encourage an integrated approach of technical art history, art history and iconology. The official language of the conference is English. Proposals of no more than 300 words and a brief CV should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday, April 1, 2016.
The proceedings of the conference will be published by Peeters Publishers.
For more information, please visit the conference website: