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Daniel H. Silberberg Lecture Series with Jennifer Stager
Accounting for Colors
Ancient Greek philosophers sought to understand the phenomenon of color as an index of the visible world, explorations shaped by the ubiquity of material colors used by ancient artists to craft art and architecture in many different materials and media. Such colors demanded regular maintenance and care, acts of engagement far beyond the initial moment of artistic production. Making with material colors also required a complex supply chain involving the labor of many different people, often including enslaved people working in mines and artists’ workshops. Focus on materials and color rather than primarily shape and form in the study of the art of Mediterranean antiquity brings these expanded temporalities of making to the fore, both the labor that precedes making and that which persists after an object’s initial production. In turn, this shifts our attention from the named individual artist who has been at the methodological center for much of art history to the distributed and collective work of making and maintaining art. Reproductive technologies are a component of this collective work in their capacity to expand access to, circulate, and forge memories of images. Reproductions have also often selected for shape and form rather than the material particularity of colors. At other times, however, reproductions have been critical spaces for adding back colors to offer new forms of materialization and to craft new sensorial experiences. Accounting for colors, thus, opens up a series of connected theoretical questions about labor, time, collectivity, and care that inflect how we make sense of the world.

Jennifer Stager is a writer and art historian in the Department of History of Art at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Seeing Color in Classical Art: Theory, Practice, and Reception from Antiquity to the Present (2022) and, with Leila Easa, Public Feminism in Times of Crisis: From Sappho’s Fragments to Viral Hashtags (2022).

Mar 22, 2023 06:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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