Opening up matter: exploring global material connections in the Renaissance

Thursday 9 May 2013 18.00 – 19.30

 

Opening up matter: exploring global material connections in the Renaissance

This talk focuses on ostensibly disparate cross-cultural artefacts – lacquer, gilded leather and glazed pottery – which, I ill argue, share some distinctive properties concerning their appearance and their actual and perceived materiality already at their time of production in the ‘long Renaissance’. Themes of global trade, customization, imitation and import substitution have provided the interpretive framework for much recent scholarship on these kinds of cross-cultural commodities. I will focus instead on the materiality of these artefacts, constructed through a comparable process of layering and demanding the beholder to look in. Recognizing this deep material, technological and sensory bond allows us not just to expand the geography of what is conventionally known as ‘the Renaissance’ and to question its temporal boundaries, but also to explore the heuristic role of objects within Renaissance understandings of materiality.

Marta Ajmar (Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art)