Lecture / Reading

Christensen Distinguished Lecture: Leonard Barkan

Sponsored by Department of Art & Art History


Thursday, May 19, 2011
5:30 pm –
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Cantor Arts Center Auditorium 328 Lomita Ave., Stanford

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Some Pages from Michelangelo's Life, with Reflections on Some Other Lives

This lecture takes as its central demonstration Michelangelo’s habit of drawing and writing on the same sheets of paper.  These expressions range from formal exercises in parallels between image and text (which are rare) and artistic expressions that are far more aleatoric and unclassifiable.  It will be observed that Leonard Barkan's study of such production—everything from beautiful finished work to doodles and scribbles—has moved from ut pictura poesis to psychobiography.  From there the talk will ask how one might imagine the unfinished, or provisional, or unsuccessful, or private work of an artist (visual or literary) as a key to that individual’s inner life; and, along the way, the talk will ask what kind of authority scholarship should accord the inner life of artists.

Leonard Barkan is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton and chair of the  Comparative Literature Department.   He has been a professor of English and of Art History at universities including Northwestern, Michigan, and N.Y.U. Among his books are The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism (Yale, 1986) and Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture (Yale, 1999), which won prizes from the Modern Language Association, the College Art Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, Architectural Digest, and Phi Beta Kappa.  He is the winner of the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  He has been an actor and a director; he is also a regular contributor to publications in both the U.S. and Italy on the subject of food and wine.  He is the author of Satyr Square (Farrar, Straus, 2006; pbk Northwestern, 2008), which is an account of art, literature, food, wine, Italy, and himself.  His latest work is Michelangelo:  A Life on Paper, which treats the artist’s creative and inner life by considering his constant habit of writing words on his drawings; it was published by the Princeton University Press in the Fall of 2010.  In 2011 he delivered the Jerome Lectures at the University of Michigan and the American Academy in Rome; his subject is food culture and high culture from antiquity to the Renaissance.

The Christensen Distinguished Lecture is made possible by a generous grant from Carmen M. Christensen

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