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2017 Bettie Allison Rand Lecture Series: Stephen J. Campbell, Johns Hopkins University

October 11, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

The Force of Images in Fifteenth Century Italy: Andrea Mantegna

The successive generations of Jacob Burckhardt, Heinrich Wölfflin, and then Erwin Panofsky, set forth a vision of the 1400s grounded in the emergence of European modernity grounded in individualism, secularism, reason, a clarity and order in its representations of the world.   From the 1960s the claims of this liberal historiography was called into question by a new wave of art history largely emerging from France in the wake of the Structuralist and Post-structuralist upheavals in the Humanities and Social Sciences.   The art of the 1400s was re-described in terms which made it into the very antithesis of “the Renaissance” according to Panofsky and his predecessors:  it becomes a place of counter-memory, rather than a revival of classical antiquity; not so much an “anti-modern” but the birthplace of an alternative modernity grounded in religious mysticism, archaism, and anxious skepticism about the limits of representation itself.   Mystics and eccentrics like Fra Angelico and Paolo Uccello became the heroes; artists like Mantegna, on the other hand, came to stand for an orthodoxy that had to be resisted.  Taken to epitomize the “humanist”, Mantegna served as a norm or a foil for the “anti-humanist” post-structuralist revisionist account.  It remains to be seen, however, to what extent Mantegna’s work really does align with a conception of Renaissance painting that was largely put in place before the mid-20th century, by scholars concerned with the origins of the Modern, and for the most part with reference to an artistic model largely informed by an understanding of Florentine art theory and practice – chiefly the writings of Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci   In other words: beyond seeing Mantegna as a biographical subject, we can set him forth instead as a locus, a point of re-alignment from which we can adjust our perspective on the geographical as well as historical dynamics of early Renaissance art in Italy.

Stephen J. Campbell was educated at Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1985), the University of North Carolina (MA 1987), and Johns Hopkins University (1993). Before joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 2002, he taught at Case Western Reserve University (1993-94), the University of Michigan (1995-1999), and the University of Pennsylvania (1999-2002). In 1993 he published a book for a general audience on the Great Irish Famine of 1847-1851, with a preface by President of Ireland Mary Robinson. In 2002 he was guest curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, for the exhibition Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara.

Professor Campbell has held post-doctoral fellowships at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1994-95); the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence (1999-2000); and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery, Washington (2005-06).


TUESDAY, October 10, 6:00
“Painting, Writing, and Presence”
Reception following the lecture

WEDNESDAY, October 11, 6:00
“Painting as Object and Meta-object”

Through a generous gift to the UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation, William G. Rand established this lecture series in memory of his late wife, Bettie Allison Rand. This funding allows the Department of Art to bring one or more eminent art historians to UNC-CH every other year for residencies of various lengths. While they are in Chapel Hill, these scholars present a series of lectures and interact with undergraduate and graduate art history and studio art students. More info about the series can be found here.

Rand Lectures 2017 Website: http://rand2017.web.unc.edu


October 11, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Tania C. String


121 Hanes Art Center
121 E Cameron Ave
CHAPEL HILL, 27514 United States
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