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Research and Academic Explore

Attributed to Agostino Brunias, button, gouache paint on tin verre fixé. Cooper Hewitt Museum. 

CLARK LECTURE

Cultural Appropriation in Revolutionary Times: Toussaint Louverture and Body Adornment

Anne Lafont (EHESS, Paris), Clark Professor (2021–2022), Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art

This talk focuses on the history of eighteen painted buttons that belonged to Toussaint-Louverture, the hero of the Haitian revolution, which were made after the paintings of the famous Caribbean artist Agostino Brunias. Toussaint-Louverture would have worn them with care and kept them until his death. This talk delves into the histories of circulation and the cultural translation of motifs at the core of Saint-Domingue’s revolution. It also considers the forms that visual and artistic regimes took in this colonial archipelago that was reconfigured by the clash of civilizations––Indigenous, European, and African––at the end of the eighteenth century.  

The lecture video will remain available until June 15, 2022.

Anne Lafont, Clark Professor for the Academic Year 2021-2022, is a director of studies l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, where she leads a research cluster titled “Histoire de l’art et créolités.” She is a specialist on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and visual culture in the transatlantic world. She is the author of numerous books, including L’artiste savant à la conquête du monde moderne (2010), 1740, un abrégé du monde, Savoirs et collections autour de Dezallier d’Argenville (2012), and, most recently, L’art et la race: L’Africain (tout) contre l’œil des Lumières (2019). She was co-editor, with Melissa Hyde, of Plumes et Pinceaux: Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe 1750-1850, (2012). From 2013 to 2017 she was editor in chief of Perspective, the journal of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA).