Byzantium/Modernism: Art, Cultural Heritage, and the Avant-Gardes
Sponsored by Yale University
Friday, April 20, 2012 to Sunday, April 22, 2012

Loria Center for the History of Art
190 York Street
New Haven, CT 6520
United States

CFP Deadline: 
Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Byzantine Empire cultivated a thriving community of theologians and philosophers that debated the ontological, phenomenological, and broader epistemic foundations of the image, upon which the Empire and the Church grounded their physical and metaphysical rule.

Since the nineteenth century, artists, critics, and scholars have utilized the Byzantine as a manner of articulating the development of modernity and its image-world. For example, in 1958, Clement Greenberg famously remarked on the formal homologies between Byzantine art and contemporary abstraction. Before him, Roger Fry coined the term "Proto-Byzantines" to describe the Post-Impressionists, and Alfred Barr described Byzantine art and its iconic heritage as fundamental to modern art.

The connection between Byzantium and modernity, however, is usually relegated to passing references or mere formal parallels, lacking a sustained consideration and archaeology of its conceptual grounding. What does modern art have to gain from Byzantium? How can Byzantine philosophy enrich our understanding of the modern and contemporary image?

The goal of this conference is twofold: First, to investigate the prolific interest in Byzantine art at the turn of the century and its effects on the historical Avant-Gardes in art, architecture, archaeology, and visual culture to the present; second, to articulate how Byzantine art and image philosophy can contribute to modern and contemporary visual culture. The intention is to produce an intellectual history of art from the nineteenth century to the present that uses Byzantium/Modernism as a paradigmatic fissure for the co-identification of said terms.

The core of this analysis is a shared visual heritage with a complex social life, layered with political, economic, social, religious, and ethnic turmoil that indexes the complex processes of orientalization and modernization in America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Papers are encouraged from all relevant disciplines, which further the investigation of modern and contemporary visual worlds through the question of the Byzantine. Please send a 500-word abstract and CV to by 1 September 2011.

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