Waiting for the End of the World: Eschatology and Art 1850-2000
A Symposium organized by Amy Hamlin and James Romaine for the Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA)
Co-sponsored by the Department of Art History, College of Arts & Sciences, New York University
Monday, February 11 and Tuesday, February 12, 2019
PROPOSALS DUE: Tuesday, September 4, 2018
After 1850, religious subjects became increasingly suspect among modernist artists determined to paint only what the eye can see. Gustave Courbet’s pronouncement, “show me an angel, and I’ll paint one,” exemplified a new, more skeptical orientation. Nevertheless, historical forces and personal motivations compelled many artists, working across a spectrum of materials and visual methods, to directly employ or obliquely reference themes of the Last Judgment and the Apocalypse. Over a century that saw two world wars, economic booms and devastating depressions, the rise and fall of ideologies of left and right, the collapse of colonial empires and the chaos of failed states, the threats of nuclear annihilation and ecological degradation, artists frequently turned to eschatological imagery to visualize the experience of modern life.
The Last Judgment described in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions threatens damnation and promises redemption for both the individual and society. This symposium will explore the way that apocalyptic beliefs and imagery—Jewish, Christian, and Islamic—have informed the work of avant-garde artists from all regions of the globe. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers of original research that explore questions such as, but not limited to: What different visual languages have artists used to address the idea of the end of the world? What meanings have they found in the eschatological narrative? How are cultural differences and similarities manifested in their work? To what extent is the teleological narrative of modern art a disguised, secular version of a theological narrative?
Our keynote speaker will be Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of Art History at New York University. His address, titled “The End of Art as a Necessary Fiction,” will consider the idea of the “end of art” as an allegory for the broader, eschatological idea of “the end.”
The Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA) is dedicated to the facilitation and promotion of scholarship examining the historical and contemporary relationship between Christianity and the visual arts. ASCHA is dedicated to examining problems that confront the field by identifying scholarly needs and fostering opportunities for the presentation and publication of new scholarship in a safe and respectful environment.
Symposium organizers Dr. Amy Hamlin (St. Catherine University) and Dr. James Romaine (Lander University) welcome proposals of no more than 300 words. Proposals should be submitted, with a cover letter and 2-page C.V. by Tuesday, September 4, 2018 to Dr. Hamlin firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Romaine email@example.com.
The symposium will be held at the Department of Art History in New York University’s College of Arts & Sciences on Monday, February 11 and Tuesday, February 12, 2019, immediately prior to the CAA’s annual conference. Presenters are expected to attend the full symposium.
Above: Detail from Last Judgment (1910) by Wassily Kandinsky
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