A conference organized by Kaja Silverman and André Dombrowski
Hailing from the origins of modern art and capitalist culture in the mid-nineteenth century, Édouard Manet (1832–83) has emerged in the past century as a crucial touchstone for many of our most pressing contemporary visual concerns. His pictorial narratives of modern life—intensely fragmented, disjointed, flat and anti-expressive, full of eyes looking directly at us—have been taken to speak deeply to the vexed ontologies of the modern and postmodern image by artists and thinkers as diverse as Michel Foucault, Jeff Wall, Pablo Picasso, Georges Bataille, or Victor Burgin. On the basis of new scholarship on Manet himself, this symposium sets out to understand his important legacy in 20th-century art, testing the thesis (among others) that Manet’s fragmented and allegorical sense of history provides one of the origin points of the (post)modern itself. By coupling Manet scholars with experts of 20th-century art and thought, this event seeks to provide Manet studies with contemporary conceptual frames and scholars of contemporary culture with a prehistory stretching back well into the nineteenth century.
Manet’s art touches deeply on some of the crucial questions of contemporary art historical scholarship as well: the legacies of abstraction; painting’s place within new orders of image reproduction; art under global industrial capitalism; modern and contemporary art’s obsession with identity and identification (ethnic, gendered, classed); the modern struggle over freedom and constraint, individualism and the state, and so on. This full-day event has therefore been divided into the following three panels: “Manet and Empire,” “Manet and the Abstract” and “Manet and Reproduction.” The confirmed speakers are Carol Armstrong, Huey Copeland, Therese Dolan, André Dombrowski, Briony Fer, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Nancy Locke, Susan Sidlauskas, Kaja Silverman, and Margaret Werth.
View the full conference program on Penn Visual Studies’ website.