1. Crafting the Miraculous: Animating Automata
Date: Tuesday 8 August, 2017
Venue: University of Sydney, Lecture Room 424, Education Building, Manning Rd
Sculptures with movable body parts appeared during the late Middle Ages and their appeal continued for centuries. With arms that could fold, legs that could bend, heads that could nod, eyes that could roll, and tongues that could move, these figures closely approximated that which they represented—living things. The ability of these sculptures to move suggested they had come to life, but this capacity was dependent on makers, who applied leather, parchment or polychromed gesso like skin over a corpus of wood with joints rendered to enable movement. This lecture will address what it meant for an artist to make these images and explore how the maker’s skill intersected with their object’s ability to become animated
Christina Neilson is Associate Professor in the History of Art at Oberlin College, where she teaches Renaissance and Baroque art. She is a graduate of the Art History Department at Sydney University and has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. She has published articles on Verrocchio and the meaning of materials in Renaissance art, and an exhibition catalogue on Parmigianino’s Antea; her book, Verrocchio’s Factura: Making and Meaning in an Italian Renaissance Workshop, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
2. The Art of Andrea del Verrocchio: Materiality and Experimentation
Date: Thursday 3 August
Venue: Domain Theatre, AGNSW (Art Gallery Society)
Cost: $25 non-member / $15 member / $10 Art Appreciation subscriber
More details: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/calendar/verrocchio
Andrea del Verrocchio (c1435-88) was Leonardo da Vinci’s teacher and one of the most inventive artists in Renaissance Florence. Professor Neilson will examine how Verrocchio used materials and techniques to construct meaning and explore his unusual approach to making objects, which included casting animals in bronze and transferring tools and techniques from one medium to another. Verrocchio’s unusual practices provided him with a sophisticated system for expressing complex ideas — theological, political, economic, poetic — metaphorically, through visual puns on making and through his use of materials.
Professor Neilson is an associate professor of Renaissance and Baroque art history at Oberlin College in Ohio, USA.