Frick Symposium Rehearsal

Please join us on Tuesday, December 18 at 3:00 pm in FA 209 for the annual Frick Symposium Rehearsal. Every fall the department receives an invitation to send a speaker to the Annual Symposium in the History of Art, held at the Frick Collection and the Institute of Fine Arts in New York in collaboration with the Frick Collection curatorial staff. The symposium is organized by the Graduate Student Organization of the IFA. Fourteen graduate programs in Art History in the region send a nominee to read a 15-minute paper. In general, the presentations are based on doctoral projects, although many, including some very successful ones, have been developed from Masters theses, seminar papers, or other original research. The Symposium offers each participant the opportunity to represent his or her graduate program at a prestigious event as well as to gain valuable experience in constructing and delivering a major paper and, of course, to meet students, faculty, and museum professionals from leading regional institutions.

The speakers are all students in the graduate program of the Department of Art History at Binghamton University. A reception will follow in FA 218.


Chris Balsiger, “A Classic Never Goes out of Style? Sigfried Giedion’s ‘Romantic-Classicism’ and Emil Kaufmann’s ‘Neo-Classicism'”

Barry Bergdoll’s European Architecture, 1750-1890 of 2000 is arguably the new standard textbook for the period it covers. Alluding to the morass of jockeying stylistic terms, Bergdoll explains his generic title: “No convenient label adhered easily to a period which opened with self-conscious attacks on the Baroque and Rococo and closed with a renewed appreciation of those as the last great unified cultural expressions.” Bergdoll’s observation is not only a reflection on the architecture he exhumes, but also a comment on the historiography of that period. For Bergdoll, the failure to deal with this plurality of styles was a methodological flaw of the “young discipline” of art history. The discipline’s method of describing the period’s “style,” was incompatible with an era that was fundamentally pluralistic in style. However stymied historians may have been, Bergdoll’s claim of a unified and single failure of past historians occludes a varied historiography that ironically paved the way for his own assessment. I explore two dominant but competing readings of the period: the “romantic” and the “neo-classic.” I locate the origin of this debate in the early work of architectural historians Siegfried Giedion and Emil Kaufmann beginning in the 1920s, which is carried forth by these scholars or others well into the 1960s.

Josh T. Franco, “Exposed: Process, Couture, and Photography in Marfa, Texas”

“Exposure” has at least three meanings: to reveal; to be left open to the elements; and the mechanical-­‐chemical process of photography. Traversing these definitions, this paper compares colloquial understandings of labor and process in Minimalist works with interpretations of the same operating in the realms of high fashion and the art world. As an interpretive tool for describing multiple inhabitations of Marfa, Texas, “exposure” opens conversations around the unspoken labor congealed in Donald Judd’s Minimalist works, the misidentification of exposed processes by the haute couture design team Proenza Schouler, and the fashion industry’s appropriation of the Marfa landscape through film and photography, particularly in the works of Mario Sorrenti and Josie Miner.

What is at stake for the legacy of Minimalism, and Donald Judd in particular, in this comparison? For present-­‐day Marfans? From its inception in the 1960’s, why has Minimalism held enduring appeal for the fashion industry? How do different photographic interpretations of Marfa and the Far West Texas landscape trouble, comply with, or otherwise complicate understandings of the town from multiple aesthetic, cultural, and economic vectors? Through the trope of exposure, this paper attends to these questions, while building a connective thread through industrial labor, high fashion, and the medium of photography as they shape understandings of Minimalism.

This presentation includes new research; interviews with metal shop workers in West Texas, archival materials from the Judd Foundation in Marfa and New York City, and images of Donald Judd prototypes never before shown in an art historical context.

Rotem Rozental, “The Camera and the Collecting Gene”

The merging of the positions of photographer and collector defines the drive of a certain kind of photographic work, for which the camera becomes a collecting device, accumulating a collection that speaks the subjectivity of its author — the photographer. There are, however, two impulses at work here: the photographer-as-collector and the collector-as-photographer. Both are present in the work of Martin Parr, who has openly admitted that he has “the collecting gene,” but also, somewhat earlier, in the work of Walker Evans whose obsession with collectibles and whose mode of photographic collecting provide a striking historical precedent for Parr’s compulsive practice. My paper explores the collecting impulse that motivates these photographers and, more particularly, shapes a new mode of making photographs and cataloguing social life that seem to escape established genre categories, including especially the category of documentary.

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