Thursday, June 5
Nineteenth-Century Exoticism and the “Oriental African”
At once compelling and repulsive, the figure of the black “Oriental” represented the ultimate exotic “other,” the inverse of the European, and helped to define the complex topography of nineteenth-century Orientalism in a variety of ways. Black figures embodied sexuality, aggression, servitude, barbarism, and ethnographic degeneration, defining themselves and by association, the Orient. Art historian Adrienne L. Childs, PhD addresses the dynamics of race and the exotic in the cultural consciousness of the 19th century.
Adrienne L. Childs is an independent scholar, art historian and curator. She specializes in race and representation in European and American art from the eighteenth century through the twentieth century, with a particular interest in exoticism and the decorative arts. She served as curator at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland where she developed academic programming and curated exhibitions focusing on African American art. She has received fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, The Sterling and Clark Institute, The David C. Driskell Center, and the University of Maryland Graduate School. Recent curatorial projects include Creative Spirit: The Art of David C. Driskell and Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art. Dr. Childs is currently co-editing the volume of essays Representing Blacks and Blackness in European Art of the Long Nineteenth Century: Spectacles of Blackness. Returning to the Du Bois Institute, she will continue her book-length study Ornamental Blackness: The Black Body in European Art.
Thursday, May 1
Have Caryatids, Will Travel: Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Architecture in Motion
When an unknown ancient craftsman first decided to substitute a sculpted female body for a load-bearing column, a curiously contradictory element entered the architectural vocabulary: a “caryatid” is a fixed, structural member who, by virtue of her human form and gesture, suggests a capacity for movement. Such figures appeared only rarely during antiquity, yet the nineteenth century witnessed a surge in the caryatid’s popularity, with female architectural supports popping-up across European cities from London to Berlin. By following a sequence of these ‘modern’ caryatids – copied, modified, multiplied and re-deployed in the projects of Karl Friedrich Schinkel – Steven Lauritano considers how and why this particular motif contributed to the Prussian architect’s conception of historicist design.
Steven Lauritano is a PhD candidate at Yale University in the Department of the History of Art. Currently, he serves as a fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, where he is completing his dissertation research on the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the re-conception of spolia in 19th-century design. Before enrolling in the doctoral program at Yale, he earned his A.B. and M.Arch I degrees from Princeton University. His past research projects have received support from the Kress Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Fulbright Program. His writings have appeared in 306090 Books, Circo, and Pidgin Magazine and he has translated several important texts from German, including essays by Gottfried Semper and Konrad von Meyenburg. In 2009 he received the Winterhouse Award for Design Writing and Criticism.
Thursday, April 3
Designing a Thoroughly Modern Atelier
Join Jacob Collins – New York City artist, teacher, and founder of the Grand Central Academy – for a provocative, free-wheeling exploration of what led him to found a modern art school patterned after the 19th – century atelier; the challenges of such an endeavor, and the future of classical training for young artists.
Jacob Collins is the founder and director of the Grand Central Academy in Manhattan and is a respected artist, teacher, and role model in the field of contemporary realism. Combining a technique reminiscent of the nineteenth-century American realists with a freshness of vision scarcely encountered among today’s traditional painters, Collins’ works form that rarest of unions where classic beauty and striking originality meet as harmonious equals. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College and attended the New York Academy of Art, École Albert Defois. Collins’ work has been widely exhibited in North America and Europe. His work is included in several American museums.
Thursday, March 6
Orientalist Architecture in New York
Architectural historian Joy Kestenbaum traces the Orientalist influence on New York City architecture from the mid-19th century through the 1920s, covering buildings and interior spaces that still survive as well as others no longer standing, including the diverse styles, sources and historic context of the City’s temples and synagogues, theaters, park structures, commercial and residential buildings.
Joy Kestenbaum is an art and architectural historian and librarian, who served as chair of the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America. She has been on the teaching and library faculty of Queens College (CUNY), Pratt Institute, New York Institute of Technology, and Purchase College (SUNY), and was also Director of the Gimbel Art and Design Library at The New School. A consulting historian for numerous award-winning preservation projects, she has also lectured widely on Jewish architects and synagogue architecture.