Ústav dějin umění Akademie věd ČR, v. v. i.

Iconic Seduction: Notes on Anti-Iconography

We cordially invite you to the lecture and discussion from the cycle The Moving Middle Ages / Dialogues, which will be given by Mateusz Kapustka (University of Zurich) and Jan Dienstbier (ÚDU AV ČR) on the topic of Iconic Seduction: Notes on Anti-Iconography.

The lecture will take place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 4.30 pm in the Academic Conference Center (Husova 4a, Prague 1). It can also be viewed online on Facebook of the Institute of Art History of the CAS and on the ZOOM platform under this link.

The trumeau in the former Benedictine abbey church of Sainte-Marie at Souillac (1120-35) is one of the most distinguished and, at the same time, most enigmatic figurative compositions in the 12th-century Romanesque sculpture in France. The lecture takes up the critical thread of a discussion concerning this object present in the 1990s. It relates to the notion of ‘anti-iconography’ used in this context by Michael Camille to oppose the visible reductionism of its hitherto mostly logocentric interpretations. The Souillac trumeau will be thus analyzed as a spatially embedded object designed to interact with the beholder in terms of iconic seduction. The main subject of the composition—beasts devouring animals and men—will be shown in relation to the ontological discourse of the ‘fall of nature’, sensuality, and mortality, as well as located in the 12th-century culture of penance. In the second part of the joint lecture, we will discuss some Bohemian examples of Camille’s ‘marginal glosses in stone’, like the architectural sculptures in the palace chapel of Cheb castle.

Mateusz Kapustka studied art history and philosophy in Wroclaw (UWr.). He was Interim Professor for the Medieval Art History in Zurich (UZH) and Frankfurt am Main, Fellow at the Einstein-Center CHRONOI, and Visiting Professor in Berlin (FU) and Poznań (UAM). Currently, he is a Coordinator of the Research Project “Shifting Reflections. Swiss-Indian Research Project on Transcultural Art History” in Zurich (UZH).

Jan Dienstbier studied art history and history at Charles University, Prague. He works at the Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Science. He is the editor of the journal Umění/Art.

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