Tag Archives: light

Call for Papers: ‘Light and darkness in pre-modern visual cultures’, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Friday 23rd November 2018

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Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Deadline: 15 September 2018

Organisers: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson

The staged lighting of modern galleries, heritage sites and publications has significantly altered understanding of the roles of light and darkness in the design and reception of pre-modern objects and spaces. Despite sophisticated systems to manage artificial and natural light, pre-modern experiences of the visual were shaped greatly by daily and seasonal rituals and contingencies. In turn, those experiences informed, and were informed by, diverse theories about vision, light and illumination.

This one-day workshop of lightning talks offers participants opportunities to explore their own encounters with issues of light and darkness in pre-modern cultures, and set them within broader scholarly frameworks. How did pre-modern cultures conceptualise, respond to, and manipulate light and darkness and their interactions in urban, domestic and religious settings? How were natural and artificial light managed? What role did they play in the design of individual artworks, architectural spaces, ephemera and rituals, and to what extent did different light levels affect perceptions of objects and spaces? What vocabulary was used to think about light and darkness, and how was this language transformed by the advent of new technologies of illumination? How did pre-modern cultures deploy light/dark, day/night, to cogitate on God and the cosmos, and to visualise them?

Lightning talks should be no more than 5 minutes and 5 slides, and will be ‘curated’ for maximum variety and visual interest. They may relate to any region or culture, and ‘pre-modern’ is here very broadly defined as the period before the adoption of gas or electric lighting. Papers might focus on single objects, rituals or spaces, or on groups thereof. All disciplinary perspectives are welcome, provided they focus predominantly on visual culture.

Papers might consider:

  • The language of light and darkness: science, theology, literature and daily life
  • Light, darkness and the senses
  • Rituals, objects and spaces by night
  • Science, technologies and visual culture
  • Theologies of light/darkness
  • Daily/annual cycles of light and dark
  • Street life and the experience of urban spaces and architectures by day and night
  • Natural ‘spotlights’ on objects or buildings
  • Provision for lighting of various kinds
  • The agency of patrons or creators in shaping lighting conditions
  • Reconstructions of original lighting conditions
  • Restaging of medieval objects in early modern contexts
  • Deliberate darkness or blinding light
  • Refraction and reflection
  • Materiality and immateriality

Abstracts of 200 words should be sent to lightanddarkness2311@gmail.com together with 100-word participant biographies. The deadline is Saturday 15th September 2018. Please note that given the brevity of papers and large number of participants, The Courtauld cannot cover travel or accommodation costs (though lunch, refreshments and a subsidised supper will be provided).

Organised by:

Stefania Gerevini (Bocconi University, Milan)

Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

Seminar: Light made and light received: Architectural polychromy in northern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

Timbert20photo-600x600Wednesday 14 February 2018
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Light in the Gothic period (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) has been the subject of numerous studies. These have drawn heavily on the writings of abbot Suger and focus particularly on stained glasses or liturgical objects. Aniconic polychromy is very rarely considered. This lecture will therefore explore the relationship between light and architectural polychromy. It will also consider the atmosphere and luminous identities generated by the use of local pigments.

 

Arnaud Timbert is Professor of Art History of the Middle Ages (University of Picardy Jules-Verne). He is a member of the Scientific Council of the International Stained Glass Center (CVMA). With the support of this institution, he sponsored a collective and interdisciplinary work on Chartres Cathedral (2014). He has also directed several works on materials and construction techniques (abbey church of Vézelay and Noyon cathedral) and restoration (castles of Pierrefonds and Pupetières). Whilst a fellow at the INHA (2015-2017) he also inaugurated a study of the historiography of architecture with a critical edition of the correspondence of Louis Grodecki (2018).

British Museum Handling Session: Medieval Light

candlestock-bmOn 23rd November 2016 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman from the British Museum once again kindly allowed staff and students from The Courtauld to look at objects from the museum’s store rooms, focused on the theme of light.

We looked at a number of objects associated with the production of light, including a Byzantine brass lamp and polycandelon. This led to a long discussion about the kinds of shadows such objects would produce, and the use of olive oil for lamps across the Mediterranean. How would other objects on the altar be affected by the light from candles or lamps, we wondered, especially in relation to transparent reliquaries such as this late 13th- or early 14th-century example.

We then examined a number of candlesticks, including this bronze base for a candestick, probably made in 13th-century England; a Limoges pricket candlestick, of a kind found across medieval Europe; and a 15th-century silver candlestick, one of a set of altar implements from the church of Vera Cruz in Medina del Pomar (Spain). We wondered about the relative costs of olive oil vs wax, and the potential for collection and reuse of dripped wax.

We also discussed the custom of lighting candles around cult images, as implied by this 13th-century seal from York, and the story of St Blaise and the two wax candles, as shown in this 16th-century French seal. Finally, we spent a long time puzzling over the BM’s extraordinary candle-stock. This is one of a pair (the other is in Jesus College, Cambridge), but is otherwise a unique survival. It is made of wax and is tapered like a candle, but is richly decorated and completely hollow, so could never function like a candle. Instead it seems to have been a kind of disguised support for a candle, one that would give the impression that very large (and expensive) candles were being burnt.

We were accompanied in this handling session by Dr Mikkel Bille, an anthropologist from the University of Roskilde, who gave a lecture the previous evening as part of The Courtauld’s 2016 Frank Davies Lecture Series on Light and Darkness, organised by Tom Nickson and Stefania Gerevini. We were also joined by two artists from Lumen Studios. This was the latest in a series of workshops organised through the ‘Medieval Touch‘ research group.

light-handling-session

Lecture, Prof Liz James: ‘Light and colour; dark and shadow’, 5.30pm,Tues 11th October, Courtauld Institute, London

church-of-the-theotokos-pammakaristos

Church of the Theotokos Pammakaristos (Liz James)

Prof Liz James (University of Sussex): ‘Light and colour; dark and shadow’

Light and colour, darkness and shadow, are all fundamental aspects of works of art in a practical way (can we see the work?), a formal fashion (what colours are used?) and conceptually (why these colours? Why this light or this lighting?). But they are also elements of the work of art that have tended to have a secondary place within the history of art. Through a discussion of Byzantine monumental mosaics, this lecture will consider some of the ways in which light, dark, colour and shade are fundamental elements in the appearance, effectiveness and function of images. 

Liz James is Professor of Art History at the University of Sussex and a Byzantinist. She has been interested in light and colour for a long time, writing her doctoral thesis on colour in Byzantium. She has just finished writing a book about medieval mosaics (provisionally entitled ‘A short history of medieval mosaics’).

Ticket / entry details:

Tuesday 11 October 2016
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

This lecture launches the Frank Davis Memorial Series on Light/Darkness

Open to all, free admission

CFP: Light and Darkness in Medieval Art, 1200–1450, ICMS, Kalamazoo, May 2017

Call for Papers: Light and Darkness in Medieval Art, 1200–1450 (I–II)

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 11-14 May 2017

Sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art

(Convenors: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson)

Separation of Light and Dark, Sarajevo HaggadahLight has occupied an increasingly prominent role in medieval studies in recent years. Its perceptual and epistemic significance in the period 1200-1450 has been scrutinized in several specialised research projects, and the changing ways in which light and light-effects are rendered and produced in the arts of the Middle Ages, particularly in Byzantium and Islam, are routinely evoked in literature. However, scholarship on these topics remains fragmented, especially for the Gothic period, and comparative approaches are seldom attempted. New technologies of virtual reconstruction and changing fashions of museum display make it an opportune moment to consider these issues in a more systematic manner.

These two sessions will investigate how perceptions of light and darkness informed the ways in which art across Europe and the Mediterranean was produced, viewed and understood in the period 1200–1450. In the late 12th century a key set of optical writings was translated from Arabic into Latin, providing new theoretical paradigms for addressing questions of physical sight and illumination across Europe. At this time theologies of light also gained renewed popularity in the eastern Mediterranean – particularly as a result of the Hesychast controversy in Byzantium, and in connection with Sufi notions of divine illumination in Islam. What correlations can be traced between theories of optics, theologies of light, practices of illumination, and modes of viewing in the Middle Ages? Are there similarities in the ways different religious or cultural communities conceptualised light and used it in everyday life or ritual settings?

These sessions invite specialists of Christian, Islamic and Jewish art and culture to explore the status of light in broader discourses around visuality, visibility and materiality; the interconnections between conceptualizations of light and coeval attitudes towards objectivity and naturalism; and the ways in which light can articulate political, social or divine authority and hierarchies. The session will also welcome papers that address such broad methodological questions as: can the investigation of light in art prompt reconsideration of well established periodizations and interpretative paradigms of art history? How was the dramatic interplay between light and obscurity exploited in the secular and religious architecture of Europe and the medieval Mediterranean in order to organise space, direct viewers and convey meaning? How carefully were light effects taken into account in the display of images and portable objects, and how does consideration of luminosity, shadow and darkness hone our understanding of the agency of medieval objects? Finally, to what extent is light’s ephemeral and fleeting nature disguised by changing fashions of display and technologies of reproduction, and – crucially – how do these affect our ability to apprehend and explain medieval approaches to light?

Proposals for 20 min papers should include an abstract (max.250 words) and brief CV. Proposals should be submitted by 16 September 2016 to the session organizers: Stefania Gerevini (stefania.gerevini@unibocconi.it) and Tom Nickson (tom.nickson@courtauld.ac.uk). Thanks to a generous grant from the Kress Foundation, funds may be available to defray travel costs of speakers in ICMA-sponsored sessions up to a maximum of $600 ($1200 for transatlantic travel). If available, the Kress funds are allocated for travel and hotel only. Speakers in ICMA sponsored sessions will be refunded only after the conference, against travel receipts.

Conference cycle: Visibility and presence of the iamge in the ecclesiastical space: Byzantium and the Western Middle Ages. Paris, 18 February – 16 June 2016

Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, salle Vasari, 2 rue Vivienne,
75002 Paris, February 18, 2016, February 18 – June 16, 2016

Cycle de conférences

Visibilité et présence de l’image dans l’espace ecclésial. Byzance et
Moyen Age occidental

Les jeudis 18 février, 24 mars, 19 mai et 16 juin 2016
INHA, salle Vasari (salle Jullian le 16 juin 2016)
2, rue Vivienne 75002 Paris

En quatre demi-journées, des spécialistes de l’Orient byzantin et de
l’Occident latin dialogueront autour de thématiques qui prolongeront la réflexion menée lors de la journée d’étude introductive du 25 septembre 2015.

Ce cycle s’inscrit dans le programme de recherche IMAGO-EIK?N. Regards croisés sur l’image médiévale entre Orient et Occident (Labex RESMED et HiCSA), dans une action collaborative avec le domaine médiéval de l’INHA, porté par Isabelle Marchesin.

Responsables scientifiques
Sulamith Brodbeck : sulamith.brodbeck@univ-paris1.fr,
Anne-Orange Poilpré : anne-orange.poilpre@univ-paris1.fr

PROGRAMME DU CYCLE

Première rencontre : jeudi 18 février 2016, 14h30-17h30, salle Vasari
Thème : L’image dans l’espace sacré : enjeux historiographiques et
perspectives

Introduction du cycle : Sulamith Brodbeck et Anne-Orange Poilpré (Paris
1 Panthéon Sorbonne)

Sharon Gerstel (University of California, Los Angeles) : Images in
Churches in Late Byzantium: Reflections and Directions
Jean-Pierre Caillet (université Paris Ouest) : L’image dans l’édifice
en Occident médiéval : le potentiel des ouvertures après un siècle de
réflexions
Répondant : Ioanna Rapti (EPHE)

Deuxième rencontre : jeudi 24 mars 2016, 14h30-17h30, salle Vasari
Thème : Lumière et éclairage de l’espace cultuel : perception et
réception des images

Lioba Theis (Universität Wien) : The Orchestration of Enlightenment:
Light in Sacred Space
Nicolas Reveyron (université Lumière Lyon II) : Image et lumière :
performance et polychronie
Répondant : Andréas Nicolaïdès (université Aix-Marseille)

Troisième rencontre : jeudi 19 mai 2016, 14h30-17h30, salle Vasari
Thème : Images monumentales et jeux d’échelle : les dynamiques
spatiales du lieu de culte

Isabelle Marchesin (INHA) : La mise en réseau des hommes et des
artefacts dans l’église Saint-Michel d’Hildesheim
Annemarie Weyl Carr (Southern Methodist University, Dallas) : Across a
Crowded Room: Paths of Perception in Cyprus’ Painted Churches
Répondant : Daniel Russo (université de Bourgogne)

Quatrième rencontre : jeudi 16 juin 2016, 14h30-17h30, salle Jullian
Thème : Visibilité et lisibilité du dialogue entre images et
inscriptions dans l’espace cultuel

Vincent Debiais (CNRS – CESCM Poitiers) : Absence/silence des
inscriptions en contexte liturgique : quelques exemples hispaniques
Catherine Jolivet-Lévy (EPHE) : Inscriptions et images dans quelques
églises byzantines de Cappadoce : visibilité/lisibilité, interactions
et fonctions
Répondant : François Bougard (IRHT)

Conclusion du cycle : Sulamith Brodbeck et Anne-Orange Poilpré
(université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne)

Chaque rencontre sera suivie d’un cocktail servi en salle Warburg à
17h30