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Public Lecture: Amy Knight Powell (University of Southern California)

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The Birth of Easel Painting

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This talk comes from a book project called Picture Box: A Small History of the Easel Painting. The word “small” in my title is meant to indicate that, despite its outsized presence in the discipline of art history, the roughly half-millennium history of the easel painting is not, in fact, very big, when seen from the perspective of either global geography or deep time. The chapter I will present concerns the “birth” of the format and particularly the historical coincidence of this birth and the so-called primitive accumulation, that is, the expropriation of land and labor—including reproductive labor—that launched capitalism.

Amy Knight Powell is Associate Professor of art history at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum (Zone Books, 2012) and Picture Box: A Small History of the Easel Painting (forthcoming from Zone). She is also writing a book about the iconoclastic, pantheistic, and anti-anthropic nature of some seventeenth-century Dutch landscape art.

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Organiser Summer School Art History

Organiser of Public Lecture: Amy Knight Powell (University of Southern California)

In recent years, the multifaceted role of the curator in museums, exhibition spaces, and cultural heritage sites has expanded significantly. Curators are expected to produce innovative scholarship, invent new fundraising formats, digitize collections, collaborate with artists, and engage with society in order to rethink the museum as a sustainable place for the future. They have also moved from traditional institutional contexts to include public spaces as a site of curation.

In 2021, our successful summer school series “The Knowledge of the Curator” centres on the increasing interest in curatorial projects that cross the boundaries between art and nature. Can artistic interventions forge meaningful relationships between humans and nature? What is the history of curating beyond museum walls? Can contemporary art enhance ecological awareness and local identities? What are the characteristics and challenges of ‘landscape-based’ curating and can the environment be curated at all?

Intended for art historians preparing for a career in museums, cultural institutions, or academia, as well as active professionals in those fields, this course is devoted to the knowledge, expertise, and skills required to meet the challenge of curating art and the environment.

Organized by the Department of History of Art, Architecture & Landscape.

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