Ensemble and ephemera in Cosmatesque environments

THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 18.00–19.30

Lila Yawn (John Cabot)

Part of a year-long international collaboration between the Slade School of Fine Art (UCL), The British School at Rome, and John Cabot University, this lecture considers some of the ways medieval opus sectile pavements completed and conversed with wall and vault ornaments in their respective environments and with the brilliantly colored vestments that clothed the clergy during the liturgies that those decorative ensembles encompassed and framed. Inspired by contemporary artist Liz Rideal’s artistic meditations on Cosmatesque mosaics and by her photographs of diaphanous fabrics billowing in ancient and medieval environments, the talk will consider elements of the San Zeno Chapel of Santa Prassede, the upper Basilica of San Clemente, the Sancta Sanctorum Chapel at the Lateran, and Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline. The lecture follows the inauguration on February 6th of Temporal Stabilities at John Cabot University, the first exhibition in a decade of Liz Rideal’s work in Rome.

Director of the MA in Art History at John Cabot University and an Advisor for Medieval Studies at the American Academy in Rome, where she was a Rome Prize Fellow in 1996-98, Lila Yawn completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has taught in Rome since 2004. Over the last decade, she has published articles on the Italian Giant Bibles—the working methods of their scribes and miniaturists; the medieval Roman cityscape; papal schisms and their material impact; the afterlife of the Colosseum, including bawdy Renaissance send-ups of the mirabilia literature; and the reception of the Middle Ages today. Her most recent studies, forthcoming in print, concern the illustrated Crusader Missal of Acre (c. 1250), and festive culture in nineteenth-century Assisi: mask wearing; ox-and-dog fighting; riderless horse-racing; and the much-followed sport of cheese-rolling. Yawn has also co-organized several international conferences—Framing Anacletus II (2013); Concilium Lateranense IV (2015); The Middle Ages in the Modern World (2018)—and collaborated with practicing artists to support their work through historical inquiry. Between 2013 and 2016 she served as curator of research and iconography for William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments, a colossal frieze and performance along the Tiber River between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini. She and her MA students are currently curating historical databases for use by contemporary artists, including one on Cosmatesque pavements.