Bard College ART HISTORY PROGRAM

Posted on October 4th, 2017

Happenings at Bard

Joseph Salvatore Ackley will lecture

Silver Faces in Late Medieval Sculpture: Just How Charismatic, Just How Lifelike?

St. Christopher, c.1375-1425, French, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sculpture and painting in the late Middle Ages tends to be written as a narrative of increasing verisimilitude and lifelikeness – and indeed, when played out across paint and wood, the naturalistic representation of human presence (charismatic, bodily, idealized, and gruesome alike) appears paramount. This trajectory, however, becomes complicated when examining figural sculpture in gold and silver: How did these media, cast for centuries as vehicles of heavenly light and otherworldly irruption into the mundane, participate in late medieval practices of mimetic representation, particularly when figuring the human body? In considering figural mimesis in northern Europe during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, do we detect a competitive antagonism or a fertile codependence between faces rendered with paint and faces rendered with metal? Considering the place of gold and silver in Gothic and early Renaissance sculpture serves to expand our sense of the pictorial priorities of this pivotal transitional period, and it also sets up a retrospective glance at earlier medieval centuries, thereby offering another approach to the ceaselessly complicated question of material, mimesis, and meaning in medieval art.

Thursday, November 2, 2017
5:00 pm, Weis Cinema

sponsored by the Art History Program