KHI 2021+ Lecture Series

Rebecca Zorach:
“Abundantly Illuminated”: Art, Nature, and Race in the Early American Museum

Charles Willson Peale, The Artist in His Museum. 1822, oil on canvas. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

In the context of the current reexamination of monuments and institutions built around colonialism and slavery, this talk addresses the founding moment of the birth of the (US) American museum, in a moment when the museum and its civilizing mission served as an explicit assertion of white control over territory and dispossessed and subordinated bodies in the nascent republic. A central figure is Charles Willson Peale, who founded his Philadelphia Museum in the years immediately founding the establishment of the U.S. Constitution, and then participated in the founding of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, the nation’s first art museum. Peale’s projects and others that followed established divisions between art and nature but walked a fine line between them, placing only the artifacts of European and Euro-American makers in the category of “art” while promoting American “nature” as a sign of national exceptionalism. The talk addresses the key role of objects brought from Europe by Joseph Allen Smith—inheritor of a fortune gained in the human trafficking of enslaved Africans. Not only do the objects Smith imported serve as an index of what counted as “art,” but the circumstances of their arrival also played a key role in establishing international policy on the public functions of art.

Rebecca Zorach teaches in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University, with affiliations in programs in American Studies and Environmental Policy and Culture. She writes on early modern European art, contemporary activist art, and art of the 1960s and 1970s. Her books include Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance (Chicago, 2005), The Passionate Triangle (Chicago, 2011), and Art for People’s Sake: Artists and Community in Black Chicago 1965–1975 (Duke, 2019). She is currently working on two book projects, one entitled The Designs of Nature, which deals with early modern European ideas about Nature as maker, in particular as a maker of images, art objects, and artifacts, and the other tentatively entitled Place Holding, in which she takes an experimental approach to writing about land, ecology, race and indigeneity, and art and its institutions in the United States.  

This talk is part of the KHI 2021+ Lecture Series, organized by the doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, in collaboration with scientific staff and senior scholars of the Institute. It is envisioned as a forum to reflect on the futures of Art History through conversations with innovative voices in the discipline, working in different areas but sharing methodological concerns. 

Hinweis

Diese Veranstaltung wird durch Fotografien und/oder Videoaufnahmen dokumentiert. Falls es nicht Ihre Zustimmung findet, dass das Kunsthistorische Institut in Florenz Aufnahmen, auf denen Sie erkennbar abgebildet sein könnten, für die Veranstaltungsdokumentation und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit (z.B. Social Media) verwendet, bitten wir um eine entsprechende Rückmeldung.

14. Juli 2021, 18:00 Uhr

KHI 2021+ Lecture Series
The event takes place online. 

Newsletter

Unser Newsletter informiert Sie kostenlos über Veranstaltungen, Ausschreibungen, Ausstellungen und Neuerscheinungen des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz.

Wenn Sie unseren Newsletter beziehen möchten, tragen Sie bitte Ihren Namen und Ihre E-Mail-Adresse ein:

*Pflichtfeld

Hinweise zum Versandverfahren

Der Versand der Newsletter erfolgt mittels MailChimp, bei dem Ihre E-Mail-Adresse und Ihr Name zum Versand der Newsletter gespeichert werden.

Nach Ausfüllen des Formulars erhalten Sie eine sog. Double-Opt-In-E-Mail, in der Sie um Bestätigung der Anmeldung gebeten werden. Sie können dem Empfang der Newsletter jederzeit widersprechen (sog. Opt-Out). Einen Abmeldelink finden Sie in jedem Newsletter oder der Double-Opt-In-E-Mail.

Ausführliche Informationen zum Versandverfahren sowie zu Ihren Widerrufsmöglichkeiten erhalten Sie in unserer Datenschutzhinweis.