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Art History and the Unseen

 2005 - 2006

One of the founding principles of the Clark/Getty workshops is to foster self-reflexivity within the discipline. This year, we began with a curious question: If our discipline is essentially concerned with the visible—the "seen"—what might constitute the "unseen" of art history? We investigated how the history of art has dealt with the representation of the unseen—a category that might include ideas, values, emotions, the numinous, the past, the dead—and how certain artistic practices attempt to render the invisible visible. The quest to represent the unseen has been part of artistic striving for many centuries and in many cultures.

Participants included Fred Bohrer (Hood College and Getty Scholar), Robin Cormack (Courtauld Institute and Getty Scholar), Whitney Davis (University of California and Getty Scholar), Lynn Gamwell (independent scholar), Mignon Nixon (Courtauld Institute and Clark Fellow), Jonathan Rée (Oxford), Jennifer Roberts (Harvard University), Charles Stewart (University College London and Getty Scholar), John Tagg (State University of New York, Binghamton, and Clark Fellow), Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan and Clark Fellow), and Martha Ward (University of Chicago and Clark Fellow).