Size Matters: Questions of Scale in Art History


Hosted by the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut in association with the University of Michigan and sponsored by the Kress Foundation, this conference addresses scale, one of the issues most central to the making and reception of art. Even more than other foundational constructs such as color, line, or shape, scale directs attention towards the capacity of the artwork to respond to a specific location and place, while simultaneously calling into question the role of the viewer. Often mistaken as size, scale opens up questions of agency in ways that compel reconsideration of what it means to be involved in the creation, circulation, and reception of visual art. Scale requires that viewers regard size as a crucial aspect that enables a material and physical entity to function convincingly as an artwork. How does one think about size as internal to form, or, for that matter, how it frames the artwork as a function of responses between meaning and materiality? In short, scale forces viewers to rethink the artwork in the most visceral terms possible.

Heuristically speaking, scale offers a rich means of making concrete a comparative art history not rooted in geographical or national distinctions. While scale might initially be seen as yet another "universal" category, the purpose of this conference, however, is not to advance a general theory of scale extrapolated from a set of highly subjective case studies. Exploring scale from a wide variety of geographical and chronological perspectives, this conference foregrounds the question of comparative study as mediated through four streams of inquiry: monumentality, scale and labor, the production of scale via different standards of measurements, and miniatures, microcosms, and anti-magnifications. In addressing scale thus, this conference seeks to open further dialogue on questions of method and interpretation often neglected in favor of what is idealistically described as "world art history."


Hannah Baader, Margaret Graves, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Mateusz Kapustka, Joan Kee, Emanuele Lugli, Oliver Lugon, Melissa McCormick, Alessandro Scafi, Achim Timmermann, Genevieve Warwick, Gerhard Wolf, and Wu Hung

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
Palazzo Grifoni - Seminarraum
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze
Dr. Emanuele Lugli  

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