Author Archives: costanzabeltrami

Call for Applications: 9th Bern Research Camp for the Applied Arts (Bern, 16–18 May 2019)

dinanderie3b_a_history_and_description_of_mediæval_art_work_in_copper2c_brass_and_bronze_28191029_281479616422329Deadline: Feb 28, 2019

9th Bern Research Camp for the Applied Arts
16 May–18 May 2019, University of Bern, Institute of Art History, Department History of Textile Arts

From the 18th century onwards, the concept of the genius and a preference for the “autonomous” art work led to a separation of the so-called fine arts (painting, sculpture, and architecture) from the applied, decorative or minor arts (gold- and silversmiths’ work, ivories, ceramics, furniture, textiles). The distinction gravely affected the choice of subjects and themes for art-historical research, and crafted objects continue to receive only marginal attention in academic art history, although they were held in high esteem by contemporary patrons, often commanded extremely high prices and played important roles in the representation of both the nobility and wealthy citizens.

The term “treasure art” not only reflects the material value and the extraordinary skills, even virtuosity, manifest in these objects; they often were of particular importance in situations that recent historical research has addressed with a view to symbolical communication and to aspects of performance/performativity. Studies that take the situative and performative contexts into account for which these objects were intended and in which they took effect, have therefore achieved more differentiated evaluations. In recent years, aspects of material culture and materiality have been considered or reconsidered in many disciplines of the humanities; art history in particular has re-established its competence in the study of objects. Analyses of the material qualities of art works, their effects and functions, of specific techniques, the organization of processes and workshop practices substantiate this renewed interest.

Founded in 2009, the Abegg-Stiftung’s Chair for the History of Textile Arts (Prof. Dr. Birgitt Borkopp-Restle) aims at establishing and encouraging an academic discourse on the applied arts from the early middle ages to the present. Material and technical aspects of the applied arts as well as their specific uses, functions and meanings in artistic, historical and political contexts are at the core of the department’s research and teaching. We explicitly seek to contribute to current interdisciplinary discourses on material culture and cultural transfer in the humanities, to studies on the history and practice of collecting and presenting art works, on concepts of space and performativity.

The Bern Research Camp for the Applied Arts, held annually since 2010, invites young scholars whose MA and PhD projects focus on object-based research in the applied arts. The workshop offers them a unique opportunity to present current projects to an audience of young scholars, academics and curators. We propose intensive discussions both of individual projects and of overarching questions and methodological approaches relevant for our themes, and actively encourage networking among the participants and with experienced scholars in the field. The program of presentations and discussions will be complemented by a visit to the Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg.

Please send us your proposal for a 30-minute presentation containing a description of your project and your methodological approach (not exceeding 300 words) and a short CV as a pdf-file until 28 February 2019.

Funding will be provided for the participants’ accommodation in Bern; if possible, we will also contribute to your travelling costs.

Please address proposals and questions to:


Seminar and Book Launch: Speaking Sculptures, Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art (Vernon Square), Wednesday 23 January 2019, 5:00 pm–6:00 pm

2019.01.23_image-600x600Many statues and works of sculpture made in the late Gothic and Renaissance period are represented with mouth open, as if caught in a mid-utterance. These ‘speaking sculptures’ have received remarkably little comment from art historians. What are these speaking statues meant to be saying? And what, as viewers, are we meant to ‘hear’ and respond? The aim of this paper is to begin to unravel this illusion of speech and the agency it implies.

It would be a mistake to dismiss the phenomenon of the ‘speaking sculpture’ as just another virtuoso feature that enhanced the illusion of life and, with it, the persuasive character of a late Gothic art or Renaissance work of art. The illusion of speech creates a different level of engagement and interaction with the viewer: faced with such an image we not only look but ‘strain to hear’. Does this suggest a sort of animation that demands a living presence response? Or does the illusion of speech enhance the potential surrogacy of the statue, ‘enacting’ the hopes of the viewer? Or could it be that a speaking statue is actually ‘saying’ something quite specific that the viewer in some sense might have ‘heard’ as part of their viewing experience. If so, how do we recover the ‘period ear’ to listen in? These are some of the questions that will be addressed.k.-wood-book-cover

Kim Woods is a senior lecturer in Art History at the Open University, and a specialist in northern European late Gothic sculpture. She combines an object-based approach with an interest in materials and cultural exchange. Her single-authored book, Imported Images (Donington, 2007), focussed on wood sculpture. Since then she has been working on alabaster. Her Open University distance learning materials include the Renaissance Art Reconsidered volumes (Yale, 2007) and Medieval to Renaissance (Tate publishing, 2012).

The seminar will be followed by the launch of ‘Cut in Alabaster: a Material of Sculpture and its European Traditions 1330-1530′

Click here to book a free ticket for this seminar.

IX COLOQUIO ARS MEDIAEVALIS: Belleza, persuasión y retórica en el arte medieval (Aguilar de Campoo, Spain, 10 al 12 de mayo de 2019)

fmslr_cartel_arsmedievalis2019Click here for more information

En las últimas décadas, los estudios de historia del arte medieval han pasado de estudiar el significado de las obras a analizar su materialidad. Más recientemente, Mary Carruthers, Paul Binski y otros académicos han renovado el estudio sobre la experiencia estética medieval. Para desentrañar y razonar las nociones sobre belleza y fealdad durante la Edad Media, estos autores han tomado textos dispersos en Agustín, Guido de Arezzo, Alain de Lille, Pedro de Celle, Bonaventura, Robert Grosseteste, Tomás de Aquino… con los que han compensado la ausencia de un corpus documental y una filosofía articulada. ¿De qué modo se entendía que los artefactos generaban deleite, disgusto, miedo y otras emociones? El estudio de esta cuestión capital ha puesto el foco sobre cuestiones como estilo, humor, artificio, dificultad y engaño. Este giro analítico ha acarreado una provechosa consecuencia: el placer derivado de la contemplación del ornamento superficial merece tanta atención como la exégesis de las imágenes bíblicas. La reconciliación de sensaciones diversas llega a ser tan importante como la iconografía de la materia. Las imágenes se distribuían, también, para aliviar el aburrimiento y esta cuestión debe considerarse junto con la especulación teológica. Dicho de otro modo: los falsos mármoles merecen tanta atención como la piedra real, incluso tal vez más.

Basándose en trabajos recientes, y conforme a las investigaciones desarrolladas en el coloquio Ars Mediaevalisde 2018 en torno al papel de los sentidos y la memoria, este noveno coloquio considerará el poder del arte medieval en dos planos complementarios: persuadir y construir conocimiento. El objetivo del coloquio Belleza, persuasión y retórica en el arte medieval no es rechazar ni cuestionar la importancia de las ambiciones intelectuales del arte medieval. Se examinarán los modos en que ornamentos y efectos de superficie, orden y variedad, imágenes curiosas o repulsivas, el humor y el ilusionismo, los efectos armónicos y discordantes, y los sistemas de retórica visual activaron las emociones y se emplearon para fines diversos.




Gerardo Boto Varela (Universidad de Gerona) – Alejandro García Avilés (Universidad de Murcia) – Herbert L. Kessler (Johns Hopkins University)

TEMPLA – GERM Estudios Visuales – Red ARSMED


Viernes, 10 de mayo (Sede Fundación Sta. Mª la Real)

Presidencia de sesión: Javier MARTÍNEZ DE AGUIRRE / Universidad Complutense de Madrid

09.15 h.: Recepción de participantes y entrega del material

09.45 h.: Presentación e inauguración del Coloquio

10.00 h.: Mary CARRUTHERS / New York University

Ordinary Beauty and Human Sensibility*

10.45 h.: Comunicación

11.00 h.: Debate

11.20 h.: Pausa-café

11.45 h.: Paul BINSKI / University of Cambridge

Aesthetic Attitudes in Gothic Art: thoughts on Girona Cathedral*

12.30 h: Comunicaciones

13.00 h: Debate

Sesión de tarde

Presidencia de sesión: Mª Dolores TEIJEIRA PABLOS / Universidad de León

16.00 h.: Francisco PRADO VILAR / Real Colegio Complutense, Harvard

El despertar de Endimión: Belleza, tiempo y eternidad en la escultura románica y su devenir fotográfico

16.45 h.: José Miguel PUERTA VILCHEZ / Universidad de Granada

Fantasía, placer y existencia en la estética árabe clásica

17.30 h.: Debate

17.45 h.: Descanso

18.00 h.: Vincent DEBIAIS / CNRS-EHESS

El color como camino de abstracción. Aproximación lexical e iconográfica*

18.45 h.: Debate

19.00 h.: Mesa redonda: Ante la belleza en la Edad Media: persuadidos y antagonistas

Sábado, 11 de mayo (Palencia. Diputación Provincial)

Presidencia de sesión: Fernando GUTIÉRREZ BAÑOS / Universidad de Valladolid

09.45 h.: Aden KUMLER / Chicago University

Periculum and peritia: aesthetics and affects in the medievalars market”*

10.30 h.: Descanso

11.00 h.: Joan MOLINA / Universidad de Gerona

Belleza y memoria en los contextos de Alfonso V

11.45 h.: Rocío SÁNCHEZ AMEIJEIRAS / Universidad de Santiago de Compostela

Lo sublime en la poética de lo visionario

12.30 h.: Debate

16.30 h.: Visita al monasterio de Santa María la Real de las Huelgas, Burgos. Gerardo BOTO / Universitad de Gerona

Domingo, 12 de mayo (Monasterio Sta. María la Real)

Presidencia de Sesión: Alejandro GARCÍA AVILÉS / Universidad de Murcia

09.30 h.: Herbert L. KESSLER / Johns Hopkins University

Eagle or Bear: Beauty as Restorative Sunlight or Spiritual Eclipse*

10.15 h..: Comunicaciones

10.45 h.: Debate

11.00 h.: Descanso

11.30 h.: Comunicación

11.45 h.: Jeffrey HAMBURGUER / Harvard University

Medieval Ut picture poesis: Beauty, Rhetoric and Monstrosity in a Twelfth-Century Illustrated Horace*

12:30 h.: Debate

13.00 h: Conclusiones y perspectivas

13.15 h.: Clausura y entrega de certificados a los asistentes

(*) Las conferencias serán impartidas en el idioma con el que se expresa su título. De las que se expongan en inglés se entregará a los asistentes el texto traducido al castellano


Este coloquio constituye una convocatoria abierta a aquellos investigadores que deseen presentar los resultados de sus análisis en esta materia. Los interesados deberán enviar un resumen del contenido de su comunicación, con una extensión máxima de 2 páginas DIN A4, a espacio sencillo (letra Times New Roman, de 12 puntos), además de una breve selección de las referencias bibliográficas fundamentales en las que se apoyará su discurso. Todo ello se enviará a la siguiente dirección de correo electrónico:

El plazo para la recepción de los resúmenes finalizará el 20 de marzo y se informará sobre la aceptación o no de la comunicación antes del 30 de marzo. En el caso de las admitidas se hará saber, igualmente, el tiempo disponible para su exposición en público (trámite obligatorio), la extensión requerida para su publicación en las actas y las normas de edición.


CFP: ‘Same Old Things? Re-Telling the Italian Renaissance’, London, 3 May 19


Marcello Maloberti, Trionfo dell’Aurora (2018), courtesy of the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan

Courtauld Institute of Art London, May 3, 2019

Deadline: Jan 28, 2019

Same Old Things? Re-Telling the Italian Renaissance

Even today, the history of art is largely dominated by narratives that are for the most part style-based. They tell a story that is teleological, ever-progressive, and structured around influential artistic centres. Within this framework, the role of individual objects shifts depending on how they fit into the broader narrative that they articulate visually. By focusing on the objects and their potential to fashion and dictate stories, a different narrative is likely to emerge.

This conference seeks to identify individual objects, or small sets of objects, which have the potential to destabilise canonical art-historical narratives of Italian art. We are not looking for an alternative Renaissance – instead, we want to ask whether a different story can be told for the same, old things. In the last few decades, art historians have reevaluated  the position of understudied works of works in an increasingly de-centred, non-linear history of art. Certain interpretative frameworks, such as queer or feminist approaches, that laudably seek to interrupt conventional readings of objects, have had modest consequences for their placement within a historical narrative, often because they seek to disrupt that narrative in the first place. Sometimes objects themselves show the insufficiency of traditional critical tools to do them justice. But seldom have newly-developed critical tools been used to renegotiate the historical framing of those objects that have long stood at the core of the Western canon.

Having long questioned the exceptionality granted Italian Renaissance art by the founding fathers of art history, academia has not yet modified radically the way we tell the story of the cornerstones of any Western museum. As a consequence, academic discourse has grown increasingly distant from museum spaces. On the whole, museums have not rejected the comforting principles of order inherent in traditional narratives, of which they are sometimes the unyielding outposts. Arguably, they also struggle to balance object-based displays with the disruption of narrative frameworks typical of recent academic discourse. As a result, celebratory, unwavering views of the Italian Renaissance have proved remarkably resilient among the general public.

Applicants are encouraged to shrug off the burden of prescribed narrative schemes; to use fresh critical tools to unravel celebrated artworks from the patchwork of narratives that stitch them together, at the same time as weaving them into new stories — stories that might be open-ended, interrogative, undetermined, and far distant from those previously told. Papers should be object-based, but not object-focused, in that their interpretation should not be confined to the inward-looking understanding of the object per se, but rather should look outwards towards their (potentially large) role in new narratives. The objects themselves should date to between the thirteenth to the early seventeenth century; they may be Italian or not, canonical or lesser-known.

Papers are sought from doctoral candidates, early career scholars and researchers. Preference will be given to candidates presenting unpublished material. Proposals of no more than 350 words should be submitted, together with a short C.V. to and by 5pm on Monday 28 January 2019. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. We hope to be able to provide subsidy for travel and accommodation. We particularly encourage candidates from the U.K. and Europe. Successful candidates will be notified by mid-February.

CFP: Collecting, Curating, Assembling: New Approaches to the Archive in the Middle Ages, University of Saint Andrews, 13–14 September 2019


Reliquary diptych, late 14th century, Italian. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917. 17.190.982)

The School of Art History, SAIMS and Special Collections Division at the University of St Andrews are pleased to announce an upcoming two-day conference on the archive in medieval art and thought.

The word archive suggests the acts of taxonomy and conservation, but also interpretation and regulation. Its etymology traces back to the Greek arkheion, thus highlighting the political nature of the physical archive and the act of archiving itself. The medieval world maintained this sense of privileged access. Isidore of Seville connected the Latin word archivium with arca, strongbox, and arcanum, mystery. But the term was malleable, referring to collections of various goods and treasures, not just of parchment records and registers. And yet, Michael Clanchy has argued that the medieval mind did not always distinguish between the library and the archive, as we do today.

The organisers therefore invite proposals on the theme of the expanded medieval archive, as it relates to art and material culture. What can medieval collections, compilations, and assemblages of material things tell us about the accumulation of knowledge and the preservation of memory? How is the archive manipulated to fit political or social agendas, and by whom? What are the limits of the medieval archive? Paper topics and themes may include, though are not limited to:

  • Records or inventories of collections, secular, civic, and ecclesiastical;
  • The archive as a physical object or visual record, including books and manuscripts, buildings, reliquaries, etc.;
  • The accretive nature of written testimony in the form of: chronicles, herbals, visitations, necrologies, inscriptions and tituli;
  • Time, writing history through the material, and collapsing temporalities;
  • The creation and perpetuation of memory, identity, and authority;
  • The accumulation and transmission of cultural or familial knowledge via material culture;
  • The politics of preservation, documentation, and display in the medieval world, and of the medieval in the modern world.

Collecting, Curating, Assembling: New Approaches to the Archive in the Middle Ages will take place 13–14 September 2019 in St Andrews, Scotland. Professor Erik Inglis (Oberlin College) will deliver the keynote. The organisers intend to publish the conference proceedings as an edited volume.

All papers must be no more than 30 minutes maxmimum. Please submit a 250 word abstract and title by 15 February 2019. Prof Julian Luxford, Prof Kathryn Rudy, and Dr Emily Savage, along with Senior Archivist Rachel Hart, warmly welcome all submissions and queries at

Lecture: Professor Helen Nicholson (Cardiff University), ‘A Ruler of the Latin East? Queen Sybil of Jerusalem (1186-1190)’, IHR, London, 22 January 2019, 7pm


The London Society for Medieval Studies is hosting the following lecture on Tuesday 22nd January at 7pm: 


Professor Helen Nicholson (Cardiff University), speaking on ‘A Ruler of the Latin East? Queen Sybil of Jerusalem (1186-1190)’

Location: Institute of Historical Research, Wolfson Room NB01, Senate House (located on Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU).

The lecture is open to all.