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HYBRID - Charismatic Rulers and Spatial Void in a Material World: Art from the Akkadian Empire, c. 2350-2150 BCE

March 21, 2022 @ 4:30 pm EDT Eastern Time

AIA Society: Princeton

Lecturer: Marian Feldman

Akkadian art is heralded as an innovative breakthrough in large part due to its ostensibly naturalistic renderings, such as the sculptural plasticity of figural forms and the appearance of landscape-like elements seen for example on the victory stele of Naram-Sin. If we no longer assume that the pursuit of spatial illusionism guides Mesopotamian artistic production, we must ask how we should understand the radical artistic shift that occurs during the Akkadian period. Our own fascination with spatial illusionism, borne from centuries of perspectivism and the standard of Italian Renaissance artistic production, celebrates these Akkadian art works without examining their original motivating factors, nor carefully analyzing their formal characteristics. In fact, spatial illusionism is rarely evident, and instead, the emphasis can be seen to be on the corporeal existence of physical things on their own, which I connect to new, totalizing powers claimed by the Akkadian kings in their territorial unification of the southern Mesopotamian city-states. Visual analysis of Akkadian art demonstrates a singular attention to the bringing into being of material things (both animate and inanimate), but a decided absence of attention to relationships among these entities within spatial settings.

Ettinghausen Lecture


Due to Covid precaution policies at Princeton, only accept 10 non PU ID attendees will be accepted. They must register with Mo Chen ( in advance and attest to being fully vaccinated, including the booster. Face masks must be properly worn in the building. Non PU ID holders must be at the front door of Green Hall by 4:20pm so staff can let them in. All campus building doors are locked to the public. Attendees will be checked in.

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March 21, 2022
4:30 pm EDT
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Nathan T. Arrington


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