The Annual Josephine von Henneberg Lecture in Italian Art: “Black Women in Italian Renaissance Art and in Modern Whitewashing” by Patricia Simons
The Art, Art History & Film Department and the McMullen Museum is pleased to invite Professor Emerita, History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Patricia Simons for its Annual Josephine von Henneberg Lecture in Italian Art. While much work has been done to find African figures in Renaissance art, substantive analysis is less common. This virtual lecture contributes to a broader critical understanding of that presence by taking the case study of Titian’s canvas depicting five bathing nymphs and an African woman who helps Diana cover herself when Actaeon interrupts them (1556–59). The only clothed woman, and thus already protected from the male intrusion, the African on the far right concentrates on preserving Diana’s chaste modesty. Little attention has been paid to the figure, but here it is asked: What difference does her body language, gaze, unusual striped robe, jewelry, and skin color make?
When considering the representation of race, a broad range of visual evidence, types of visibility, and cultural situations need to be acknowledged and analyzed. Above all, as with gender, it is crucial to do more than repeatedly identify victimization and objectification, and work toward recognizing agency and subjectivity. Who sees what, and under which circumstances, is not an immutable or timeless process, and new ways of seeing old material demonstrate that history is about subtlety and change, offering hope for a different future.
Register for this event at https://tinyurl.com/y29xdf72.
Patricia Simons is Professor Emerita, History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her books include The Sex of Men in Premodern Europe: A Cultural History (2011) and the co-edited Patronage, Art, and Society in Renaissance Italy (1987). Her work ranges from the trecento to contemporary Australian art, treating such subjects as female and male homoeroticism, gender and portraiture, the public and theatrical use of Christ Child figures, and the visual dynamics of secrecy and of scandal. Her latest project is a large, open access Google Doc, a global bibliography on premodern women artists and patrons. She is also working on a book-length analysis of the visual and cultural history of beards in Early Modern Europe, including a consideration of racial and ethnic differences.
Thursday, October 15 at 6:00pmVirtual Event