• 22 Nov 2017

Abstracts for papers are invited for Frenemies: Friendship, Enmity, and Rivalry in British Art, 1769-2018, an international conference taking place 19-20 July 2018 at the Paul Mellon Centre.

From the earliest histories of art, the friendships and rivalries of artists have been the subject of anecdote and gossip. For that reason they have been associated with the popular storylines of art, rather than with the scholarly discourse of art history. However, the wide-ranging re-evaluation of affect and emotion that is taking place in the humanities, and the increasing recognition of a synchronic, network model of understanding rather than a diachronic, emulative one in art history, have suggested that artistic friendships and rivalries are key agents in the production and reception of works of art.

The long history of British art furnishes many examples of complex and productive friendships and bitter, crushing rivalries. The Royal Academy, from its foundation to today, is one major locus of such complex affective networks, as has been its annual summer exhibition. In conjunction with the exhibition The Great Spectacle: 250 years of the Summer Exhibition, to be held at the Royal Academy between June and August of 2018, and curated by the Paul Mellon Centre’s Mark Hallett and Sarah Victoria Turner,  this conference seeks to explore the impact of friendships and enmities on subject matter and artistic method, as well as on the formation of artistic careers and on the reception of works of art. We aim to re-evaluate and elevate these relationships, shifting them from the peripheral status of cultural gossip to central aspects of making and meaning.

For more information and details on how to submit an abstract please click here.