For the first ‘Intermediality’ Graduate Research Seminar, organised by the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge, we are joined by Fabio Barry (Stanford University) who will be discussing his recently published book Painting in Stone: Architecture and the Poetics of Marble from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Yale University Press, 2020). It tells a new history of premodern architecture through the material of precious stone. Poetry, the lens for understanding costly marbles as an artistic medium, summoned a spectrum of imaginative associations and responses, from princes and patriarchs to the populace. Three salient themes sustained this “lithic imagination”: marbles as images of their own elemental substance according to premodern concepts of matter and geology; the perceived indwelling of astral light in earthly stones; and the enduring belief that coloured marbles exhibited a form of natural—or divine—painting, thanks to their vivacious veining, rainbow palette, and chance images.
Dr Fabio Barry is assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. Originally trained as an architect, his research and teaching still gravitates to this art form, although he is deeply interested in painting and sculpture of all periods as well as archaeology. Much of his published research has concentrated on artistic production in Rome, particularly Baroque architecture, treating themes from liturgy to light metaphysics. He is also interested in identifying the evocative qualities of materials (the “Material Imagination”) before the era of mass production and standardization distanced materials from the realm of nature and myth.
Seminars will take place online via Zoom, hosted by the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge
As the current pandemic is presenting artists and institutions with the challenge to rethink the ways in which art works can be displayed, mediated and circulated, the question of intermediality has returned with new urgency. In the study of art, the concept of intermediality allows us to consider the longstanding history of the arts’ interaction with each other and other disciplines, while challenging the very notion of media specificity that underlies traditional definitions of art historical and academic specialisms, as well as the organisation of museum collections. This seminar series covers a broad time frame, from antiquity to the present day and offers a fresh opportunity to examine and compare the relevance and productivity of this critical concept to the study of art history across different epochs and geographies.