Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875), Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, c. 1830–32. Oil on canvas, 34.3 x 45.7 cm. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (1955.555)

New Antiquity III: Conditions of Visibility in Greek and Roman Art

April 19-20, 2013

The Clark/Oakley Colloquium "Conditions of Visibility in Greek and Roman Art," convened by Jas' Elsner, Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Art at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; Guy Hedreen, Professor of Art, Williams College; Richard Neer, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, Cinema & Media Studies, and the College of the University of Chicago; and Verity Platt, Associate Professor of Classics, Cornell University, explored what the conditions of visibility were for "them" (the Greeks and Romans) and what the conditions are for "us" (modern academics, audiences, and viewers). What were, and what are, the necessary and sufficient conditions for an image to be visible in the way art history needs it to be? Visibility in this extended sense is often an unstated premise of art-historical research: one tends to assume that the objects of study were there to be seen, even as it is claimed that one can instruct on how to "look" and how to "see." Yet, as colloquium participants discussed, visibility is a quintessentially political phenomenon, a question of access and acculturation. We explored these issues and considered how to bring the study of Classical art into a more productive conversation with other areas of art history.

Participants included:

Annetta Alexandridis, Cornell University; Ben Anderson, Cornell University; Nathan Arrington, Princeton University; Ruth Bielfeldt, Harvard University; Patrick Crowley, University of Chicago; Jas’ Elsner, Corpus Christi College; Milette Gaifman, Yale University; Guy Hedreen, Professor of Art, Williams College; François Lissarrague, L’École hautes études en sciences sociales; Richard Neer, University of Chicago; Verity Platt, Cornell University; Michael Squire, King’s College London; and Jennifer Trimble, Stanford University.

The Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Williams College was established in 1985 to support faculty research across the humanities and social sciences, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary work.