Perpetual Contemporaneity. Reflections on time, crisis and survival in art history

8 june, 2012 - 10 a.m. to 14:30 p.m. and 14 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Associated project Seminars and Lectures
Organized by
Department of Art History I at Universidad Complutense and Museo Reina Sofía Academic co-ordinator: Francisco Prado-Vilar
Miniature, s. XI.
Anonymous. The Deluge, Beato de Saint Sever. Miniature, s. XI.

With their analyses of a broad corpus of works, ranging from ancient sculpture to cinema, from the silence of the heavens to the voice of Edgar Wind, these lectures address some of the burning issues touched upon in recent discussions about the visual arts, such as temporality, anachronism, influence, crisis, the sacred and survival. The idea is to look once again at two foundational questions in art history as an academic discipline: the survival of the classical legacy and the construction of modernity. A critical reconsideration of these two large topics is especially relevant at this time, with the current crisis in the European project, and in the context of the institution that houses Picasso's Guernica, on the 30 anniversary of its arrival in Spain. This work can be considered a theoretical object that captures the essence of this symposium, which incorporates the history of art, from medieval miniatures to documentary film, to build a visual manifesto about the crisis of the present, the survival of the past and the project of modernity.


Session 1. Morning and early afternoon

10:00 h - 10:30 h. Presentation: Jesús Carrillo, Francisco Prado-Vilar and Antonio Momplet
10:30 h - 11:20 h. Francisco Prado-Vilar. Silentium: Cosmic Silence as an Image in the Middle Ages and Modernity
11:20 h - 11:40 h. Colloquium
11:40 h - 12:30 h. Jas Elsner. Visual Ontologies: Style, Archaism, and the Construction of the Sacred in the Western Tradition
12:30 h - 12:50 h. Colloquium
12:50 h - 13:10 h. Break
13:10 h - 14:00 h. Rocío Sánchez Ameijeiras. Sculpting the End of Time (1211-2011): Melancholia in the Visionary Mode
14:00 h - 14:30 h. Colloquium and conclusions
(Lunch break)

Session 2. Late afternoon

16:00 h - 16:50 h. Alexander Nagel. Eastern Antiquities and Renaissance Europe
16:50 h - 17:00 h. Colloquium
17:00 h - 17:50 h. Leonard Barkan. How Altar Pieces are Like Dinner Parties: Alberti and the Life of an Idea
17:50 h - 18:00 h. Colloquium
18:00 h - 18:30 h. Break
18:30 h - 19:20 h. Adrian Rifkin. The Voice of Edgar Wind: Towards a Eurydician Notion of Historical Thought
19:30 h - 20:00 h. Round table


Jas Elsner is a research professor of classical antiquity at Oxford's Corpus Christi College, and is also a visiting professor at the University of Chicago's Art History Department. He is the author, among other studies, of Roman Eyes: Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text (Princeton University Press, 2007).

Leonard Barkan is a professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. His publications include Michelangelo: A Life on Paper (Princeton University Press, 2010) and Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture (Yale University Press, 2001).

Antonio Momplet is the director of the Department of Art History I at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He is the author ofEl arte hispanomusulmán (Encuentro, 2010).

Alexander Nagel is a professor at the Institute of Fine Arts of the University of New York. He is the author of The controversy of Renaissance Art (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and, with Christopher Wood, of Anachronic Renaissance (Zone Books, 2010).

Francisco Prado-Vilar is a Ramón y Cajal research professor in the Department of Art History at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He directs the international research group Spanish medieval art and European culture: the classical undercurrent and impact on the discourses of modernity. At the end of 2012, he will publish Tears from Flanders: Memory, Prophecy, and the Consolation of Painting (Brepols, 2012).

Adrian Rifkin is a professor of fine arts at Goldsmiths' College, University of London. He was the editor of About Michael Baxandall (Wiley-Blackwell, 1999) and Ingres, Then and Now (Routledge, 1999).

Rocío Sánchez Ameijeiras is a professor at the Department of Art History of the University of Santiago de Compostela. She contributed to the book Gothic Art and Thought in the Later Medieval Period (Princeton University Press, 2011) and is the author of Los rostros de las palabras. Imágenes y Teoría Literaria en la Edad Media Occidental (Akal, 2012).

Academic co-ordinator: Francisco Prado-Vilar

Sabatini Building, Auditorium