Hispanic identity has been shaped during the last century by a conscious selection of historical periods of its history. After the loss of the last colonies of the former Spanish Empire at the end of the 19th century, the nation had hit rock bottom in political terms. To counterbalance this decline, writers, poets, essayists and scholars from the so-called generation of ’98 aimed for the restoration of the cultural splendor of the Spanish Golden Age, a period of flourishing in the arts and literature that spans from Philip II’s reign until the death of Charles II in 1700, the last of the Habsburg monarchs. This wish has been constant through the 20th century and is also connected with the rise of neobaroque aesthetics and postmodernism. Baroque has become a multifaceted concept and, nowadays, is more a space of reflection than a chronological or formal label. The lecture will explore the continuity of baroque art in Spanish contemporary culture such as art, photography, cinema, pop music, comics, cartoons, internet memes, football or television series, where the fascination with Spanish Golden Age is not only a matter of style or aesthetics but also political and identitary. From inspiration to appropriation, from art galleries to politics, baroque art is a powerful tool in contemporary Spain.
A guest post by Anna Espinola Lynnand Clare Hills-Nova
On 23 October, 2019, ARTES, together with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hosted a transdisciplinary session at the University’s Weston Library, focusing on Mesoamerican manuscripts. The event was designed to mark the 500th anniversary of the historic meeting between the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) and the Aztec ruler Moctezuma the Younger (1466–1520), just outside Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), on 8 November 1519. Attendees included students, academics and representatives of other cultural institutions.
ARTES members were invited to this exclusive event. Would you like to take part in similar visits in the future? Join ARTES today!
The afternoon began in the Weston Library’s Visiting Scholars’ Centre. On view were the Selden Roll (MS. Arch. Selden. A. 72 (3)) alongside two modern books produced by Alfonso García Tellez,using the traditional, amate paper-based techniques evidenced by rare Pre-Hispanic codices and rolls.
The session began with Sir John
Elliott’s essay on the Cortez-Moctezuma encounter before moving on to
presentations by Giuseppe Marcocci (University of Oxford), Emily Floyd (UCL), and
the Bodleian Libraries’ Head of Conservation, Virginia Lladó-Buisán.
Giuseppe followed Sir John’s paper
with a consideration of the roles vision and visual culture took on in the
encounter between the Spanish visitors and the Mexica. Turning to contemporary
accounts of the encounter that emphasize vision, as well as representations of
the imagined or real Other, Giuseppe pointed to visual asymmetries active in
colonial contexts as they participated in relations of power.
Emily, meanwhile, provided a reading
of the pre-colonial Selden Roll as it expressed the formation of a new cycle of
rule in central Mexico. She discussed the multiplicity of ways the Roll can be
read, and invited further conversation as to possible representations of time,
succession, generation and regeneration. Regarding the name of the Selden Roll,
Emily noted that this was associated with its colonial history of collecting more
than with the Roll’s actual content, commenting that ‘The Roll of New Fire’ had
recently been adopted as a more appropriate title for it.
Virginia followed up with insights
into the processes and materials used in creating the Roll, drawing upon the
results of recent research. Participants in this session had the unique
pleasure of getting up close to the Selden Roll and asking those experts
present questions about anything from shifts in hue or line quality, to
contexts of production in pre-colonial and colonial environments, and on the
multivalent symbolisms in the Roll.
Following a compelling period of conversation around and about the objects, the afternoon concluded with a visit to the Weston Library’s Talking Mapsexhibition, where the Codex Mendoza (Bodleian Library MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1) was on display. Here, they were able to extend the conversation regarding the authorship, readership and linguistic referents of the pre-colonial Roll of New Fire versus the colonial era’s Mendoza Codex.
Images courtesy the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
A book launch and Q&A will be held on the 23 November, 3–5pm, at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck University of London.
In this book launch, Birkbeck scholar Mpalive Msiska will interview Dr Carmen Fracchia, from the Department of Cultures and Languages, about her new book Black but Human: Slavery and Visual Arts in Hapsburg Spain, 1480–1700 (OUP, 2019). This will be followed by a brief conversation between the author and the visual artist Victoria Burgher, who will give a short presentation of her work.
is a Paraguayan academic trained originally
in Italian and Spanish Art History at the Universities of Siena and
University College London. She is a Reader
in Hispanic Art History at Birkbeck. Her work focuses on the visual
articulations of Hispanic intellectual, political, and religious
thought about local Spanish and transatlantic slavery, freedom,
subjectivity, race, and hybridity, with special emphasis
to the visual representations of Africans and Afro-Hispanic enslaved
and liberated people, such as Juan de Pareja (Antequera,
Mpalive Msiska is a Malawian academic who is a Reader in English and Humanities at Birkbeck where he teaches courses and supervises research work on Post-colonial and Global literatures as well as interdisciplinary subjects. He has previously taught at Bath Spa University and the University of Malawi, among others. His publications include Post-Colonial Identity in Wole Soyinka (2007), Wole Soyinka (1998), Writing and Africa (1997) and The Quiet Chameleon: A Study of Poetry from Central Africa (1992) and the most recent chapter ‘Divine Ways of Cognition: the Burden of the Poet-Seer in Soyinka’s Idanre,’ in The Soyinka Impulse, eds Duro Oni and Bisi Adigun. He is a member of the Caine Prize Advisory Board, the Council of the British Institute in Eastern Africa as well as the Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies.
Victoria Burgher is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in East London. She studied at Goldsmiths College (MA) and her politically engaged practice ranges from sculptural installations and site-specific interventions to collaborative community projects. She is interested in art’s ability to challenge histories and a fascination with materials and process inform her approach to making. Current work uses colonial commodities to decolonise the nostalgic narrative of Empire. She exhibits regularly in the UK and Europe.
Attendance is free but booking is necessary. Please click here to book and here for more information.
The call for papers is open for the DR-DS 2020 International Congress, which will be hosted in the cities of Seville and Granada, from the 11th to the 15th of May, 2020. The congress will include inaugural and closing conferences by professors Amadeo Serra, from the Universitat de València, and Fernando Marías, from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, as well as a number of highly qualified guest speakers.
The great transformation experienced by Spanish architecture during the reign of Emperor Charles V finds a brilliant and diverse expression in the activity of Diego de Riaño and Diego Siloé. Both masters, one working in the Sevillian metropolis and the other in the former Nasrid capital, the last bastion of Islam on the Peninsula, defined two very different models of operation. Both produced some of the first Spanish buildings with a fully Renaissance language.
This congress proposes to approach these two great architects in the context of the transition to the Renaissance in Spain. They will also serve as a pretext for tackling similar phenomena from a broader perspective, incorporating methodological and historiographic problems within a European framework. The organisers invite national and international researchers to an event that builds a cooperative space for interdisciplinary dialogue, offering an attractive and exciting programme of keynotes and plenary sessions given by experts in the field, with the presentation of unpublished papers selected by a scientific committee. All contributions will be published in an edited volume. Papers are subject to evaluation using a double-blind peer reviewed system to ensure scientific quality.
The congress will be hosted in Seville and Granada. The organization will be responsible for the transport between the two cities. The conference will open on 11 May in Seville. Paper sessions will be accompanied by special visits, for example to the sacristy of Seville cathedral and the city’s town hall, both works by Diego de Riaño. On 13 May sessions will take place in Granada, including a visit to the cathedral, designed by Diego Siloé, and Charles V’s palace, designed by Pedro Machuca.
The conference will focus on the following themes: General: – Theoretical and historiographic approaches. – Graphic and documentary testimonials.- Science and technology. – Architecture and city. – Promoters, patrons, ideologists, artificers. Specific: – Diego de Riaño and Lower Andalusia. – Diego Siloé and Eastern Andalusia. – The transition to Renaissance in other areas.
On 8th November 1519, Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma Xocoyotzin met for the first time, and less than two years later, in August 1521, the Spanish had completed their conquest with the aid of thousands of native auxiliaries who fought against the Aztecs. While this anniversary is being commemorated in Spain, Mexico have requested an apology from its former colonial master for the atrocities committed against its indigenous population. As such, this anniversary, and the subsequent anniversaries that will be remembered in the run up to the end of the siege of Tenochtitlán have very different connotations depending on your point of view.
500 years on, this guest panel aims to interrogate the contentious nature of historic anniversaries; the significance of this meeting for the Aztecs and other indigenous Mexicans, and its importance for the Spaniards and the narrative that it would help create. The guest speakers are: Greg Jenner, public historian, author and historical adviser for Horrible Histories; Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock, the UK’s leading Aztec specialist; and NTU History’s Dr Amy Fuller, who has published and lectured on the Conquest of Mexico.
The 3 speakers will be delivering a lecture of approximately 1 hour (20 minutes each) on different aspects of the significance of the 500 year anniversary, followed by a Q&A and reception for further questions/networking opportunities.
Travelling Objects, Travelling People aims to nuance our
understanding of the exchanges and influences that shaped the artistic
landscape of Medieval and Renaissance Iberia. Traditional narratives
hold that late fifteenth-century Iberian art and architecture were
transformed by the arrival of artists, objects and ideas from France and
the Low Countries, while 1492 marked a chronological rupture and the
beginning of global encounters. Challenging these perceptions, this
conference will reconsider the dynamics of artistic influence in late
medieval Iberia, and place European exchanges in a global context, from
Madeira to Santo Domingo. Bringing together international scholars
working on Spain, Portugal and a range of related geographies, it seeks
to address the impact of ‘itinerant’ artworks, artists and ideas, and
issues of migration and non-linear transfers of materials, techniques
The theme of ‘travellers’—artists who reached or departed the region,
at times more than once in their lives, but also objects and concepts
imported and exported—will expand and inflect traditional narratives of
late medieval and Renaissance art, underscoring the complexity of global
interactions and exchanges which connected the Iberian peninsula to
Europe and beyond. Bringing together international scholars working on
Iberia and a range of related geographies, the conference seeks to
address the impact of ‘itinerant’ artworks, artists and ideas, and to
expand the field of analysis beyond Europe to encompass relationships
with newly acquired dominions, from Madeira to Santo Domingo.
Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:
Iberian artists employed abroad, from the master mason Guillelm
Sagrera in Naples, to the sculptor Juan de la Huerta at the Chartreuse
The close imitation of northern artists in such works as the Portuguese copies of Quentin Metsys’s The Angel Appearing to Saints Clara, Colette and Agnes (early 16th century, Museu de Setúbal / Convento de Jesus, Portugal)
‘Iberian’ objects produced elsewhere, for example Christian ivory
carvings made in Goa or Kongo, Afro-Portuguese spoons, and Mexican
‘feather-work’ adopting the vocabulary of northern European late Gothic
Works made for a non-Iberian audience but purchased and displayed by local patrons.
By encouraging conversations across such seemingly disparate topics and geographies, the conference aims to position the Iberian artistic landscape within the networks of artistic exchange that spanned the medieval and Renaissance worlds, challenging the significance of 1492 as a moment of rupture between the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods.
Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. Successful candidates will be notified by 17 February. In the first instance, applicants are encouraged to apply to their home institution for travel and accommodation funding. The organisers hope to provide financial support for travel and accommodation to speakers who require it. This conference is made possible by the kind generosity of Sam Fogg.
Alfonso X ‘the Learned’ of Castile (1252–1284) was praised in his lifetime as a king who devoted himself to discovering all worldly and divine knowledge. He commissioned chronicles and law codes and composed poems to the Virgin Mary, he gathered together Jewish scholars to translate works of Arab astrology and astronomy, and he founded a university of Latin and Arabic studies at Seville. Moreover, according to his nephew Juan Manuel, Alfonso was careful to ensure that ‘he had leisure to look into things he wanted for himself’. The level of his personal involvement in this literary activity marks him out as an exceptional patron in any period. However, Alfonso’s relationship with the arts also had much in common with that of other thirteenth-century European royal patrons, among them his first cousin, Louis IX of France. Like his contemporaries, he relentlessly used literary works as a vehicle to promote his royal status and advance his claim to the imperial crown. His motivation for the foundation of the university at Seville was arguably political rather than educational, and instead of promoting institutional learning during his reign, Alfonso preferred to direct the messages about his kingship in the lavish manuscripts he patronized to a restricted, courtly audience. Yet such was the interest of the works he commissioned, that those who could obtain copies did so, even if these were still incomplete drafts. Three codices traditionally held to have been copied for Alfonso in fact show how this learning reserved for the few began to filter out beyond the Learned King’s immediate circle.
Kirstin Kennedy is a curator of metalwork (specializing in silver) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She previously held a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at King’s College London, in the Department of Spanish and Spanish American Studies (2000–2003).