Session 4: The Educated Eye? Connoisseurship Now

Session 4: The Educated Eye? Connoisseurship Now

September 30, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


[silence][sound cut out] Speaker 1: Discussions, someone
who has worked, not only worked on connoisseurship,
but is really interested in relating her own practice to
it, has a remarkable career both in relation to museum
and gallery exhibitions and a glittering academic career
and someone, of course, who Sarah and I have know very well,
not only from the past but also in relation to her new
role, or relatively new role, the same civil time as me, as
head of department at York. We were delighted and I was
absolutely delighted when Liz was chosen for that role
because she was- we all knew there that she was by far
the most exciting person to take that role on and someone
who is not only dynamic as a head of department,
but as a scholar and as a curator and someone who’s
been a professor of history of art at both Bristol and now
at York who specializes, as you all know, again, on
19th century British art. Wonderful book on asceticism, on
a lot of very interesting work on individual pre-raphaelites
and the movement as a whole. Also, managed to somehow or other to
find time to write books which deal with issues of beauty
and of the classical tradition in a remarkable career. It was great, but when you
said yes, Liz, we saw this as a really provide a cast
into the day as a whole. Can I ask you to welcome Liz? Well, I think this
will be talking about half an hour or so, then
we’ll have a chance to have a few final
questions to both her and some reflections
on the day as a whole. Again, it would be very
good for us here at the center to hear
your suggestions about ways we might take
this topic forward, and then, of course,
at five o’clock, we’ll have a chance to go upstairs
to a drinks reception where we can carry
on our conversations and end our working weeks, so thanks very much, and can
we now welcome Liz. [applause] Liz: The thing about being the last
speaker is that other speakers have already made all your best points much more
eloquently than you. Rather than editing my paper on the
spot, I will just forge ahead on the theory that if it’s a good
point, it’s worth saying it again. I would like to begin
with a little fable. Long, long ago when I was an
undergraduate, we were taught to look at objects as if we were
connoisseurs, that was a very primitive era indeed and we were
very naive about the ideological and moral implications of the
methods we were being taught. Still, it did allow us to look
at a very wide range of objects about which we knew relatively
little, and since I was lucky enough to be studying Art History
in a department that was attached to a great museum, we
could do that at first hand. For example, I took a course
on Japanese medieval art taught by a great scholar and
curator, John Rosenfield, who told us on the first day that
he couldn’t give us a reading list because there was
nothing in English to read. Instead, we had a series
of looking exercises and here is an example,
two ruffled deities were set up in one of the
galleries and we had to write an essay comparing
and contrasting them. The comparing part
wasn’t too bad, here were two representations
of aggression, forceful but also dynamic with solid
contrapposto and flying draperies. Both figures seemed very male,
products, obviously, of the militaristic and patriarchal
society and one where there were very strong conventions
for representation so that the basic formula for a figure
of this kind was very stable. They are both made of assembled
wood block construction and both of them have suffered
quite a bit of wear and tear. The contrasting bit was
more challenging, we looked at the two sculptures for
hours wondering what in the world we were supposed to
say, hours and hours, in fact, and day after day during the
week of the assignment. Then after an awful lot
of looking and some angst, they did start
to look different. I quote from my own youthful
effort a description, “The figure on the right is slimmer,
the elongated mid section of the body tapers
gracefully at the waist, and the roundness of his hips is
pulled tight by his battle dress. His head is proportionately
bigger and his torso and limbs longer
than the figure on the left who is
stockier, squatter and whose body curves
in an exaggerated way. His left supporting hip is
thrust out with the weight of his body and his waist swells
instead of tapering inward. The observer is more conscious
of the bodily volumes of this figure, his knee
protrudes, his chest and stomach swell, his hip bulges.” I went on like this for several
more pages before concluding that, “The figures demonstrated
different expressions of rough, the figure on
the left,” I opined, “is more aggressive,
fearsome, but the one on the right is forbidding,
imposing in his anger.” In the process of doing this
exercise, what looked at first like two rather
unprepossessing thugs and in pretty damaged condition to boot
became, for us, fascinating and nuanced works of
extraordinary Art History. I’ve chosen this preliminary example
partly because it doesn’t lead to an attribution to an
individual artist, these sculptors’ names
are lost forever. It does lead to the
identification of the date and milieu for
each object and in a way that’s absolutely
determinative for any further art
historical inquiry. In fact, the sculptures
are from quite different dates, the
one on the left from the Haiyan period about
1075, and the one on the right perhaps three
whole centuries later. We’d been making a big mistake
if we’d stuck to our original impression that the two
objects looked very similar. Certainly, if we were attempting any
kind of social or cultural history, that starting point would have
made our work simply gobbledygook. As I said, that was long,
long ago, 1980 to be precise, and when I
embarked on postgraduate studies a few years after
that, I became aware of the exciting world
of the new Art History. For some time, in fact,
I felt resentful that my own undergraduate education had been so conservative, so
connoisseurial, now I’m not so sure. Here is another anecdote. Quite recently, I
was asked to act as external assessor on an appointment panel for an entry level curatorial post at a major
municipal art gallery. The post attracted more than
150 applicants, most of them with good art historical
qualifications, and it was a hard job whittling it down to a
shortlist of 10, all of whom had at least a master’s level
degree in history of art. As part of the interview
process, each shortlisted candidate was shown a range of four of
five objects and asked to talk about them in various ways. Among the objects was this one
and it turned out to be a pretty challenging one, only 2 of the 10
were able to guess the artist. Couple of the others thought
it must be something really old, maybe as old
as the 19th century. The majority of viewers
said it must be Victorian, clearly an art historical
term of power. Obviously, this isn’t
one of Rembrandt’s most famous prints, and I should stress that the candidates were the best
and brightest of their generation. They were very much at home
with recent and contemporary art and talked intelligently
or even brilliantly about the objects and the
selection that dated from the very recent past which
they could readily identify. They lacked not only the knowledge
but also the connoisseurial skill to cope with an object that wasn’t of
the type already familiar to them. In case I haven’t yet revealed
myself comprehensively enough as a stick in the mud, I’ll add
that it’s a relief we don’t take the skills training of our
engineers and doctors in quite so cavalier fashion as we do
that of our art historians. I do think that the future
of Art History is in genuine peril, and with it,
the future of our museums and the objects in them
as well as all those who care for or deal with
the objects in any way. For the rest of this
paper, I would like to explore what we might do
about this dire state of affairs, what the future might
be like for art history and historic art, if there
is a future at all. A first question, what
kind of art history could we do without connoisseurship,
not the social history of art or any kind
of historically-based cultural history that dealt
with extant objects. I hope the example of the ruffled
deities demonstrated that. Since it would have no method for establishing the
historical credentials of objects and art history without connoisseurship could
only deal with objects that have documentation
or some sort of unassailable external evidence about their time and place
of origin, and that would be an absurdly
partial selection. For a start, it would be entirely Eurocentric and male
dominated, so partial, indeed, that it would
be more responsible to dispense with the
objects altogether. The new Art History did demonstrate
that there were principled ways to go about a history
without objects, it might concentrate, for example, on
describing the institution of arts and its functions in well defined
historical circumstances. That kind of inquiry could easily
be carried on in a history department and it wouldn’t
need museums or galleries. Paradoxically, the
institutional approach to art history would kill art
history as an institution in a sense of being a
discipline with methods different from those
of pragmatic history. Alternatively, it might be possible
to conceive a purely theoretical art history, one wouldn’t then
need objects, just concepts of potential art objects and perhaps
something of the sort has been tried in some art and design context
with not uninteresting results. In that case, though,
the inquiry could just as well be done in a philosophy department and, again, it would have
no need of museums or galleries. I’m not quite so much of
a stick in the mud, but I don’t think both of
these options ought to be pursued and, indeed, that
they should have close relations with an art
history of the object. That leads to what I think is the
more interesting question, what kind of art history can we do in
the future with connoisseurship? I should say, to begin with,
that I’m not simply eliding connoisseurship with any
object based art history. I’m interpreting it more
strictly as an art history that takes the extant object, the
one we can look at ourselves as a starting point that is
one in which the primary data are visual rather than
logical or conceptual. Connoisseurship is sometimes
said to represent a scrupulously or rigidly empirical approach to
art history, an approach that’s assumed to be capable of
differentiation from a theoretical art history and sometimes the
latter is even called Hegelian. Well, Hegel would have a
problem or two with that. What’s special about our
discipline, in my view, the reason its method
is worth developing, is that the specification
of its concrete object and its conceptual
sophistication are reciprocal and
coordinated, a key insight of Hegel’s, so I
reject the pernicious notion that curators
do one kind of work, and academic art
historians, another. We both do something,
or should do something, that involves a highly sophisticated reciprocity between the empirical and the conceptual and a high
degree of skill, so to quote Morelli, “The only true
record for the connoisseur is the work of art
itself,” or Berenson, “The works of art
themselves are the only materials of the student
of the history of art.” Sometimes it comes as a
surprise to students that the purest connoisseurs refuse to admit documentary
or external evidence, except as corroboration
for a judgment made on the basis of
visual examination of the object, but that suggests how connoisseurship does
differ, as a method, from pragmatic history
or pure theory. It asks us to start with the
extant material object, something non-verbal and not yet
interpreted or conceptualized. It asks us to try making
that the starting point, rather than the illustration
or reflection of some historical situation that
we can know by other means and can verbalize in a
logically coherent fashion. I take this to be a radical
approach, also one that can’t be reduced to a mindless empiricism,
a point to which I’ll return. First, let’s follow
through what happens when we start with
the extant object. Classic connoisseurship or what,
for the purposes of this talk I’ll call “old connoisseurship,”
aim to work from the object we now see with all its wear and
tear back to the moment of its origin in the past, that potent
moment when it came into being. This is a quest, and
when it attains its goal, there’s something
like an epiphany, a eureka moment
archetypically expressed as an attribution to an author. As you’ve already seen,
it isn’t strictly speaking necessary for the quest to end by naming an author,
it could result in the discovery of the date, place or circumstances of
origin, rather than the historical
individual who made it, but the pattern is
the same in either case, and the most
dramatic stories of connoisseurship are the
ones that culminate with the revelation of the name of the artist, as in
this famous case when Roger Fry in 1911
conducted a thorough re-examination of
this painting which had been in the National Gallery for decades under various
names, and revealed it to be an Alesso Baldovinetti. There are many such
stories in the history of connoisseurship and they
make great dramatic impact. They also respond to a longing we
have for connection with the past. When we reach the end of the quest and the author’s name is
revealed, the work we see before us in our own
time becomes the very object that the old master
created in his time. The temporal distance between
us and Baldovinetti, in this example, vanishes
and we come face to face, or at least, face
to profile, with these supremely elegant woman
of 15th century Florence. Thus, old connoisseurship,
as I’m calling it, may be deeply
satisfying or even moving when everything clicks
and we feel that we have reached the right attribution, and even though there
may be room for some skepticism about the
validity of its results, the development of
connoisseurship through the 19th century up to what might be called its heyday at
about the time of this attribution,
which coincided with the early years of the
Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, all
this activity created a vastly expanded canon
of artists and works, a massive evidential
base for academic art history, for museum collecting and display, and for art
dealing and collecting. An example is the
quite extraordinary process by which Early Netherlandish Art was defined and differentiated
through the 19th century. Early in the century, paintings that
appeared to be of early Flemish or Netherlandish
origin were subjected to a binary classification. They were called Van Eyck’s if
they appeared more realistic or Memling’s if they seemed
more spiritual and mystical. This kind of archetypal
pairing is familiar enough in the study
of art forms, think of Homer and Virgil,
Raphael and Michelangelo, Mozart and Beethoven, and indeed, frequently theorized
in the 19th century as Classical and
Romantic or Schiller’s Pair, naive and sentimental, but as the century progressed,
paintings were re-attributed to a
panoply of artists so that by the time
of the great Bruges Exhibition of 1902,
this archetypal pairing had given way to a
whole constellation of artists, each with
their own distinctive style, Rogier van der Weyden, Gerard David, Dieric Bouts,
Petrus Christus, Quentin Matsys, et
cetera, et cetera. This represented a
magnificent advance in our knowledge of the history
of Netherlandish art, one that’s been
explored in Jenny Graham’s fascinating book,
Inventing Van Eyck, which I recommend to
anyone who wants to explore this further,
but the ferment of re-attributions also
meant a wholly different understanding of the
historical situation vis-a-vis art production in the Low Countries of the 15th
century and a wholly different construction
of the aesthetic character of Northern
European art, no longer seen as an archetypal
struggle between the claims of the worldly
and the spiritual, but rather as a thriving
world of strongly differentiated individual
personalities. Was the work of the connoisseurs
the cause or the effect of this radical shift in the understanding
of both art and history. That’s hard to say and
perhaps the relationship is best characterized
as a reciprocal one. The example shows how the apparently empirical work of the
connoisseurs cannot be divorced from much wider theoretical considerations about history
and aesthetics alike. It might be argued that at
some point, this activity was bound to reach a point
of diminishing returns. As with the practice of
textual criticism in the study of the classical
texts, handed down through Medieval copying,
once you’ve worked through the editing process with all the texts that survive,
there’s less and less for the textual scholar
to do, just a bit of tinkering, and the
occasional appearance of a previously unknown
manuscript or papyrus. In the case of works of art
that survive in material form, such as paintings, there are
also technological developments that may take over some of
the functions of the human connoisseur’s educated eye,
or not as the case may be. You could say that
connoisseurship was a valuable stage in the development
of art history, but one that’s bound
to become outmoded, indeed, to put itself
out of business, so to speak, but as in
the case of textual criticism, the returns
never quite diminish to nothing, take as an
example the portrait of Pope Julius II in
the National Gallery. This is the subject of a whole book by Loren Partridge
and Randolph Starn published in 1980 when the late 20th century wave of
interest in the social history of art was
gathering force, about the time, in other words, when old connoisseurship was
coming under attack from a new generation of scholars. The book is a fascinating early
example of a pretty thorough going socio-historical method,
and yet the book was enabled by a recent re-attribution of the
portrait, formerly believed to be a copy to Raphael
himself, accompanied by a thorough restoration. The magic of attribution
appears here at its most potent just at the moment
when connoisseurship was being discredited
and paradoxically, the sense of coming
face to face with the real Raphael, the
real Pope Julius, enabled the kind of socio-historical
approach that in subsequent years would
attempt to distance itself more and more from
old connoisseurship. Before the painting
was declared to be an original by Raphael,
it had no certain historical location,
and therefore, it was uninterpretable,
art historically. As Partridge and Starn state,
no one wrote about it. It was only when as late as
1970, it acquired or reacquired its authorship, that interpretation
was able to proceed. Partridge and Starn, right. In the newly restored radiance
of Raphael’s portrait masterpiece, both art and
cultures shine through. We’re encouraged to
see right through the painting to some
meaning on the other side. That meaning, the book makes
clear, belongs to the originary moment that admittedly
fascinating few months between late 1510 and March 1512
when Pope Julius like Keto grew his beard and, presumably,
was painted by Raphael. Yet it simply didn’t
occur to Partridge and Starn in a book
of about 170 pages to tell the reader how it
was that a painting of the most powerful
of renaissance popes by the most famous
painter of his day got lost from view and as
late as 1970 acquired or reacquired its
authorship by Raphael, enabling interpretation to proceed. Indeed, the restored
picture, now revealed as of Raphael, did not
look quite the same. Although it was substantially
the same material of object as the painting
formally believe to be a copy. Yet the book tells us
nothing about how it was that the painting
could appear to be a copy for so long or
what enabled scholars to see it as a real Raphael at last. For that, we’d have to look
at the picture, not through it, and enter into a
dialogue with it that might teach us something, admittedly,
a terrifying thought in relation to this
notoriously irascible pope. In that sense, the social history
interpretation proposed by Partridge and Starn was still firmly in
thrall to the illusion of the old connoisseurship,
reinforced by the mistake of the modern conservation studio that persuades us that we’re seeing
Pope Julius as Raphael painted him. Now, I’m not suggesting that
either the great connoisseurs of the 19th century or the
great art historians from that period up to the
present day were unaware of the vicissitudes through which
their objects had passed. In Morelli or [?] for example,
there’s always a discussion of condition as part of
the attribution process. I am suggesting that the teological logic of old
connoisseurship requires a basic and fundamental move from
the intensive and skillful scrutiny of the extant object in the present
day of the connoisseurial observer to an imagined or
idealized evocation of the moment of creation. This invocation, I’m arguing,
is deeply satisfying psychologically, but
it’s more than that. It’s a very powerful form
of historical recreation or reenactment and one
well worth attending to. Well worth attending to, that
is, so long as we do not confuse it with positive
historical fact, a category error to which connoisseurship as
a practice or method has been exceptionally vulnerable
throughout its history. So seductive, moreover,
is this illusion of recreating or reenacting
the originally moment that has not even been
discarded by the critics of connoisseurship or
made a focus of attack. Socio-historical accounts
simply substitute another version of the originary moment, one that
emphasizes political, social, or cultural context rather than authorship, but which
is just as idealized with respect to its basic relationship with the
material object we see before us. It will be obvious by now that
I advocate an art history that takes the extent object
as its starting point and moreover one that develops
visual skills, at least as sophisticated as those
of the old connoisseurs. I’m in favor of the educated eye
in the title of this conference. I also think that we’re in real
peril of being unable to support or defend the education of the
eye in the face of hostility and misunderstanding, not to
mention budget cuts, and perhaps we can talk about this more
in the discussion later. To complete my prophecy
of doom, however, I’ll also reiterate
my earlier point. Without the education
of the eye, there’s no reason for university art history departments to exist and there are real risks to our
museum collections. It’s not impossible that the
objects in our museums of old Europe will become uninterpretable,
as the portrait of Pope Julius was when it
was considered a copy or the Rembrandt print that was a
mystery to the aspiring curators. Then they lose their value and
there’s no reason to preserve them. Something of the sort happened
to the greatest start of classical antiquity at the
end of the Roman empire. We have no extent works by the
greatest artists of ancient Greece. No Apelles, no Zeuxis, no Myron, Polyclitus, Phidias or Lysippos and maybe just one
extant work by Praxiteles. That’s it. That’s all that survives
of the great works of art mentioned by
the ancient authors. The previous generation of
art historians, including some of my own teachers,
wanted to sweep away old connoisseurship as
an oppressive relic of outmoded class hierarchies
and social injustices. I figured there might have been
a baby in bathwater problem to use an analogy, it’s
already been mentioned today. However that may be, we are
in an altogether different political situation now,
one in which we need to fight for our right to educate
our eyes, those of our students and those indeed
of a much wider public. I’d like to see a television
program devoted to new connoisseurship and I’m
confident it could be riveting. What will or could
new connoisseurship be like in contradistinction to its stick in the mud granddad,
the old connoisseurship? I don’t want to be too prescriptive,
so I’ll just sketch a few preliminary ideas before turning
this over to discussion. First, I think we need
to inject new life into our visual skills and our
ways of teaching them. The methods of connoisseurship
may have to do for now, even though our main concern
will not be with attribution. The visual skills developed in
connoisseurship might be like Latin. We don’t use the language
for practical purposes anymore, but learning
it is still a good education in the workings
of language just as connoisseurship is a good
education for the eye. I would also like to see new
methods of looking being developed in a revitalized
practice of visual analysis. Second, for reasons that
I hope my preceding comments will make
clear, I’d like to see the new connoisseurship frankly acknowledging the whole
history of the object. Neither pretending that the present
day appearance of the extent object can be treated as a proxy
for the original object as it was first made, nor ignoring any
of the vicissitudes that it underwent between the point of its
creation and the present day. To quote Philippe de
Montebello and his mission statement for
his series of Humanitas lectures in 2012, “No
work of art appears to us today as it was
originally conceived. Any response at
historical distance isn’t necessarily variable
and contingent.” I agree with this, but I’d like
to phrase it more positively. Rather than longing to see the
work of art as it was originally conceived or worse pretending that
we can somehow recreate or reenact that original work, we ought to
revel in what we can see and what that can tell us about the
vicissitudes the work has undergone. Otherwise, we’d simply have to throw
up our hands in despair when we encountered such objects as the
Raphael deities with which I began. No one could responsibly
argue that these frayed objects, as they’re
displayed in modern museum conditions, correspond in
any straightforward way to the sculptures as they
were originally conceived. We must either give
up or find ways to work with the objects
as we see them. Walter Pater, one of the
most intelligent critics of connoisseurship in its 19th century
form well understood this point. For example, when he wrote
of this painting in 1869. Vasari pretends that the central
had was never finished. Well, finished or unfinished
or owing part of its effect to a mellowing decay, this central head
does but consummate the sentiment of the whole company, ghosts through
which you see the wool, faint as the shadows of the leaves upon
the wall on autumn afternoons. This figure is but the faintest
most spectral of them all. It is the image of what the
history, it symbolizes has been more and more ever since paler
and paler as it recedes from us. For Pater, what
fascinates, and indeed what makes meaning,
is the present-day appearance of the painting,
not some putative original state that
we cannot now see. Finally, a related point. The timescale and the range of
comparison should not stop with the present moment, but should
inspire new artistic creation. Well, I’ve been
advocating the art of old Europe and railing
against the lost of art historical expertise
among students who were principally interested
in contemporary art. I think that any art historical
method worth having should be in vital relationship to art
making in the present day. This, perhaps paradoxically,
is where I think we have most to learn
from old connoisseurship. In the 19th century, the
excitement of discovery about the art of the past came
into reciprocal relation with contemporary art
production in ways that we art historians have only
just begun to explore. I’ll turn left for
just a short example, the concessional pact
with the Louvre. Scholars have little to tell
us about this painting. There’s no agreement
about whether it’s by Titian or Giorgione or
someone else, nor do we have any idea what it
meant to its original audiences in early
16th century Venice. Those are so many holes
in the data, but Dante Gabriel Rossetti
wrote a sonnet that may help us to
see the concessional pact in a more profound sense. For Rosetti, the gaps in the data
are prompts to more imaginative looking to search for a
meaning that remains elusive. The sonnet creates a mood of
hushed contemplation perfectly balanced between sound and
stillness, pleasure and sadness. Then the dialog shifts, and Rosetti
seems to address the spectator or perhaps himself beginning
with a question, “Whether astray her eyes now from whose mouth the
slim pipes creep and leave it pouting while the shadowed grass
is cool against her naked side. Let be. Say nothing now unto her lest
she weep nor named this ever.” In the sonnet, the impossibility of
pinning down a verbal meaning for the picture of naming
it in Rosetti’s word is no longer a regrettable hole in the data, but rather a key to
its fascination for the spectator. The most famous artistic imitation
of the concession pact is that of a Édouard Manet in the
Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe of 1863 and the Venetian painting also
wanted the imaginations of English artists such as Burne Jones,
for example, in Chant d’Amour of 1865. The two artists emphasized
different aspects of the painting. Manet brings out the shock
effect of presenting the female nude
together with clothed male figures, whereas
Burne-Jones explores the idea of rapt attention to music. Both painters like Rosetti
in his sonnet, transform what might seem the principal
defect of the concession pact from scholarly point
of view, that is the fact that we have no data on it,
into an aesthetic virtue. Both the Manet and the
Burne Jones may still baffle their viewers, but
as with the concession pact, the questions raised
seem more interesting than any determinate
answers could be. According to one of the
great connoisseurs of the early 20th century, Maxx Reed Lando, academics enter
the museum with ideas, art connoisseurs
leave it with ideas. Rossetti and his sonnet,
Burne Jones and many in their paintings are
acting as connoisseurs. They start by looking at the
old master painting and louvre and the ideas they leave with
result in making new works. Connoisseurship in this
view need not be a stick in the mud or dries dust
empirical method, rather it’s the way to open up new
realms of visual experience which may lead to all
manner of ideas as well. I’d like one final time
in this conference to end up with a character
who is actually since becoming rather a
hero for us, Jonathan Richardson from the
early 18th century. For Richardson, the good
connoisseur is one who has learned to think clearly
and judge for themselves. This will bring not
just advantage of various kinds to the
connoisseur, but also an indispensable
component of what Richardson considers the happy life. Greater enjoyment of
the beauties of art. It’s that distinctive combination
of thought and pleasure that I hope may flourish with
the new connoisseurship. [applause] Audience 1: Thank
you very much, Liz. We have got a few minutes
for some questions about the new connoisseurship,
its possibilities. Very nice way to end the day. Opening up a possibility
if there is such a thing and that we might want to think
of practicing it. Any thoughts responses
are very welcomed. Yes, Irene. Irene: Irene Lise. Yes, with new connoisseurship,
I’m wondering about performance art, installation, architecture, how might those fit into a new connoisseurship, opening up the
mediums because today we’ve been looking a lot at paintings and
sculpture and drawings, prints. Liz: Maybe new connoisseurship
thinks of the work of art as a performance through time as I’ve
been describing, that’s a idea. In other words, the performance
might be a quite natural object for a part of a method
that can deal with the passage of time, but I shouldn’t say
I have a very clear idea of how you could do this, I
think it’s quite difficult. Architecture, of course,
is very interesting because of the ways that
you move through it. Connoisseurship is quite associated
with painting, actually, I think. Historically, it has
been, although it has a very important
sculptural component in the 19th century, I
think, particularly looking at ancient sculpture. That might be another thing
for new connoisseurship to do, would be to develop ways
that you can think about works of art where art
either where they’re mobile or where you have to be mobile,
that was just a thought. Somebody else may
have better thoughts. Audience 1: Any other
thought about this idea? Yes. Audience: Hello. I just wanted to re-raise some of the
dangers perhaps. I like your idea of the imagination
filling in the gaps and that this is a bedrock for everything we
have to do and that the educated eye is something that should be
part of education, but I’m just concerned about the canon and to
re-raise the question of memory. Liz: About? Audience 2: The canon. Liz: The canon, yes. Audience 2: If we’re expecting
a– Is this a fruitless exercise or do we want
people to limit themselves because we are limited and
we’re more aware of that now with our increased horizons
and world art as such. How might that be
negotiated in the new connoisseurship, this
idea of bulk memory? Liz: The history of
connoisseurship, I think history has come out in interesting
ways during the day. There’s one way this is a
depressing history because lots of things get demoted
in connoisseurship and they’d always turn
out to be by less glamorous people than
you thought before. On the other hand,
what that means is that you actually get more artists, that’s what I was trying to show in the example of the
Netherlandish painters. The process of them, you can say
that this is art historians making business for themselves,
creating more and more artists. Some connoisseurs have
created more than perhaps more than actually existed. I would see the activities that
we would get by looking as actually creating a widening
academy, blowing open the canon. Making the canon proliferate. On the other hand, I do
also think– we have to choose what things
we’re going to look at and what things we’re
going to do and having the exploration through
very careful looking. One of the classic aspects of
connoisseurship who people have concentrated a lot
on the attribution thing and on the detection of the
fake and the authenticity side, but of course, the idea of
the judgment of equality, which I don’t actually think
we can get away with it all, not unless we are going
to– If we had a million years of existence, maybe
we could, but not if we are going to make any kinds of
choices about what we do. Also, that comes into
extremely interesting relation with the other things. I think we should be talking about
what it is that makes us think that one thing is really good
and another thing not so much. Does that answer
your question sorry. Audience 1: It does. One of the things I’m
interested about is this idea of the educated
eye and we’ve talked a little bit, Michael
touched on the idea of what the eye pertains to,
what knowledge is there. There’s something I- the
bulk of the interest in intellectual history
of this eye, I loved your quote about the
connoisseur leaving the museum with an idea
rather than vice-versa. I’m just curious why an
intellectual history is therefore ruled out perhaps when a knowledge of previous
forms of visual, some idiosyncrasies
could be included. Liz: It’s not ruled out,
why would it be ruled out? Audience 1: Well, in some
senses, the intellectual history is history, you
said that could be done by the philosophy or our history
department and would prejudice on looking,
remove us from the object. Liz: In fact, I think
I tried to say that I think we should have those
kinds of histories. I think we should also
have a history where we actually start from the
object as something that we genuinely don’t
know what we’re going to find from it before
we begin, so to speak. Audience: Thank you. Liz: I’m not actually even making
the claim that there was some idealized Golden Age
of connoisseurship when people did this,
I doubt there was, but I think that that
is a possible way to go about something that would actually
be intellectually interesting. I think it would also show us and in many ways, it would
give us some quite interesting insights
into the period “eye” if you’re going to
talk about that way. In other words, history
that has some purchase Speaker 1: Just Imagining this
idea of the educated– For me, I may be a bit uncomfortable with
that notion of the educated eye. I’m certainly very interested
in that the process of close looking that
you are encouraging us to think about
doing, and Bendor is also encouraging us to do
about what actually goes on in that process
because let’s imagine and– I think a number
of the student quite regularly, we spend an
hour or two hours in front of a picture, let’s say,
if it’s a painting. They’re different
address that we make to that image during that process. Actually, it’s a very complex
process, which continually moves, I think, can often move in terms
of the passage of time between the forensic close-up looking that
you alluded to Bendor in a National Gallery says stop looking quite
so closely the surface and so on. Then the other kind of looking which
is the reverie that we all feel. I think if you spend
a long time in front of what you feel, an
extended relationship with it and then of
course is expressed by something like Rosetta’s poem. That whole process of engaging
with a work of art over time on our part as spectators
but also as writers and about the way we move
between what seems to be empirical and even forensic
and something which is much more poetic in the
new terms imaginative is wonderful, maybe we
really need to think about hard if we’re going to
encourage these experiences, the basis for a new scholarship
in history of art. I don’t know if that make sense. Liz: You’re saying you’re
uncomfortable with the educator eye, what would you be proposing,
that we had an innocent eye? Speaker 1: Yes, I do, but I’m
just thinking about in practice. I love the idea of– It’s not an eye, it’s
a vision that’s well informed in notions of visual
literacy in artists and so on. I’m just very aware that– I
think Tim Clark addresses in his Sight of Death which is
a whole process of the time that one spends on the picture
trying to somehow capture that different form of experience
in essence in a diaristic way. I think actually that does point to the potential strengths
but also some real issues around this notion of
extended looking that is being encouraged here
which I fully endorse. It’s a very complex process. [crosstalk] Liz: The issues you’re
saying that you’d be confused about whether the
results were in a sense subjective or objective to
use the terms that Steve and Duke brought up at the
beginning in the morning? Speaker 1: Yes. I just want to open that
as an issue really. Audience 2: It seems to me there
is sometimes a little bit of a confusion between a
connoisseur and close looking. It seems the two can
be interchangeable. Liz, I was happy to hear that
actually you somehow give us an answer by explaining
how can connoisseur work well, claims to have a
method and this is probably the difference between close
looking and connoisseurship. At the same time, these
very method that is supposed to be applied
for anything from Greek sculpture to
Italian paintings to 19th century and whatever,
is the problem. The fact that you can look
at all these paintings made in different
periods by different communities in the same
way is exactly one of the shortcomings
of connoisseurship. It implies as a game. I’m repeating myself a unity between
Greek sculptures and Italian 15th century artists where I cannot
possibly think that would be. Liz: I don’t see why it implies
that, when you look at them, you find out they’re
very different, don’t you? Audience 2: You do. At the same time you
do pay attention to certain things and
certain elements of compositions, the treatment
of the textures, the way the paint here
earlobes and so on. In a certain way, you
imply certain categories and the artwork as somehow to adapt. Liz: Yes, I do think
we need some way to get going, some way
that we start off, but I would think–
One of the things I would like to see
is actually much, much more discussion
in all of our worlds of these fantastic
people from different areas talking about what it is that
we would when we analyse something. I take the points about maybe
one of the things as we point to it as Spike was saying
and I think that’s helpful. Actually, in a group of students,
you can even say to them and you point that’s it and they don’t actually see anything
because they may be looking at it, but if they have
no analytical skills for working out what they’re looking at, they
may not see much, so to speak. We have to have some way
to get the thing going. Audience 2: Even the
attention to details even this is a cultural construct. McNair Shapiro refused to look
at details, they wanted to see the overall picture because they
thought in their overall layout and the way objects were positioned,
you could understand much more than actually by looking closely
at the canvas, whatever, surface. Liz: Well, I had a
teacher who advised us to look at everything
from three different distances one very
far away, one with your nose in it and one in between. I have to say, I was taught to
do that when I was very young, and I do still do
it without actually even realizing what I’m doing. You can choose any any
method you want, can’t you? Audience 2: I still wonder,
because at some point you started talking about methods
and this kind of plurality– Liz: You don’t want to have a method
at all, this is very a man way. [laughter] Audience 2: No, I’m just trying to challenge this idea of
the method, what is the method, what it
implies, what kind of normative and
discourse lies behind. I think already multiplying
the methods in a sort of way already
helps and somehow helps for the
construction of the canon you’re talking about
as the globalized art world, but at the
same time, I’m still thinking whether the
method at the end, even multiple methods still produce a certain type of
shortcomings eventually. Liz: What do you do if you
don’t have any method? How do you go about it? Audience 2: I endorse
anarchy all the time. Speaker 1: [?] you wanted to. Speaker 2: Well, I
just wanted to say that the method [?] the method is remembering what you’ve seen before and not just remembering
but having seen many things before you’ve seen what you’re looking at
now, and remembering what you’ve seen is the crucial part
of, I think, being a connoisseur. If you can’t remember
what you’ve seen before, you’re not going to
advance very far. It also depends on what
you’ve seen before, it depends on what the
decisions that you’re either at that moment,
so you can be trained, it can be acquired and
it can be improved Liz: Yes, this is from a man who has [sound cut]