Paint Made Flesh Symposium
January 23-24, 2009
Auditorium, Registration required. Call 615.744.3247
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will host a major symposium January 23–24, 2009, in conjunction with the exhibition Paint Made Flesh, a revisionist study of post-World War II art.
The exhibition offers a rejoinder to the modernist orthodoxies of the period by contending that paint’s material properties make it most suited to convey metaphors for human vulnerability. The exhibition includes works by Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Willem de Kooning, Alice Neel, Leon Golub, Philip Guston, Eric Fischl, Georg Baselitz, Jenny Saville, Wangechi Mutu, John Currin, Daniel Richter, and others.
The symposium will offer compelling conversation about the role of figure painting as it has defined psychological and socio-historical conditions in Europe and the United States since World War II.
Paint Made Flesh Symposium Schedule and Presentation Descriptions
Friday, January 23, 2009
Registration and reception
John Elderfield, chief curator emeritus of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art “Painting Flesh and the Part That Governs”
This lecture will address the relationship of paint and bodily representation in critical examples drawn from the classical modernist art of the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries—from Edouard Manet to Willem de Kooning. Among other topics, John Elderfield will explore how the manner in which flesh is painted reflects the status of the hedonism that accompanied the foundation of modernism.
The title of the lecture derives from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: “This Being of mine, whatever it really is, consists of a little flesh, a little breath, and the part that governs.”
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Registration and continental breakfast
Introduction by Mark Scala
Susan Edwards, executive director and CEO of the Frist Center
“The Influence of Anxiety: Painting the Figure in Cold War America”
Susan Edwards will speak on the persistence of figurative painting in American Art from 1947 through 1989. During the period of the Cold War, American art practice, including production as well as critical and commercial reception, was dominated by formal aesthetics. Abstract painting was touted by some as the only relevant avenue for the medium. Dr. Edwards will discuss the enduring viability of alternative paths and how artists working against the grain did so with anxious commitments to their own individual voices.
Emily Braun, distinguished professor, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University New York
“Skinning the Paint”
For more than three generations, from Francis Bacon to Jenny Saville, British painters have been obsessed with analogies between the painted surface and carnality. Dr. Braun will consider the ways in which the images of these artists are neither humanistic in the traditional sense of treating the body as whole and perfect, nor inhumane in the sense of casting a purely clinical eye. Instead their works are filled with an often violent, if piercing, lyricism—the result of viewing and sensing the body from new, unorthodox perspectives.
Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in art history and director, Center for the Study of Modernism at the University of Texas-Austin
“Drawn on the Body”
During times of political insecurity and moral ambiguity, the hard fact of material, corporeal presence can be affirming and assuring. Visual artists of the twentieth century have been appreciated for establishing a material ground for cultural practice, if only because the traditional pictorial arts such as painting— handmade and labor intensive—engage the body directly and intimately. The depicted subject of painting is often the human body itself. More importantly, the painter’s own body becomes the indexical origin of whatever he or she represents (sometimes with ironies added). Richard Shiff’s presentation will explore the link between painting and corporeality with an emphasis on German art of the postwar generation that includes examples from older Europeans as well as from younger ones.
Mark Scala, chief curator of the Frist Center
“Fragmentation and Reconstitution in Contemporary Painting”
Mark Scala will propose that works by certain contemporary painters convey historical situations in which the homogenizing forces of economics, communications, and technology are fragmented by compulsions to define the self in terms of nationality, ethnicity, religion, or political viewpoint. In depicting the body as fleshless or in a state of transformation, these artists remind us that the individual is inseparable from the larger “body” of society, with all its splits, seams, and shifting moods and values. If such works mirror a condition of entropy, do they also offer a way of restructuring the self to adapt to change?
11:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Question and answer period
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
Eric Fischl, figurative artist
“Painting is Dead”
Eric Fischl will discuss the disappearance of the body from painting and sculpture using two key points as markers in the development of modernism: Vincent van Gogh cutting the lobe of his ear off and one hundred years later, the American performance artist Chris Burden having himself shot.
Michael Bess, chancellor's professor of history at Vanderbilt University
“Networked Bodies, Sculpted Minds: The Future of Human Biological Enhancement”
Michael Bess, who has written and lectured on the social and cultural impacts of technological advances in medicine, genetics, and prosthetics, will address the potential for the wholesale reconstruction of human identity in the next century.
To register, please send in the Paint Made Flesh Symposium Registration Form or call 615.744.3247.