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Gothic Sculpture: Idols Old and New

Lecture – Paul Binski

  • 17 October 2018
  • 6:00 – 8:00 pm
  • 18.00-19.30 Paper and Q&A
    19.30-20.00 Drinks and Nibbles
  • Paul Mellon Centre

This paper takes the medium of Gothic sculpture as an occasion to scrutinize older and newer ideas about medium, persuasion, making and materials. Its central concern is to try to distinguish a critical language appropriate to the Middle Ages which does not import ideas of much later, often post-Romantic, genesis. Above all it will ponder human artifice. It will consider the notion of occasion, and the public domain: Gothic stone sculpture will be treated as a form of public eloquence and not as the object of personal psychological reading or ‘empathetic’ engagement. The ‘affective turn’ in the study of medieval art will be treated as a form of expressive realism. The paper will then go on to challenge the current trend to ‘remagic’ sculpture through animist and materiality theory. Throughout the role of human thinking and feeling subjects will be prioritized: how art created and crafted experience in people.

About the speaker

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    Paul Binski is Professor of the History of Medieval Art at Cambridge University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and was Slade Professor, Oxford University, 2006-7. His publications include Becket’s Crown. Art and Imagination in Gothic England 1170-1300 (2004) and, with Patrick Zutshi, Western Illuminated Manuscripts: a Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library (2011). His study of medieval art and aesthetics, Gothic Wonder: art, artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350, was published by Yale University Press in 2014. His new book, Gothic Sculpture, Eloquence, Craft and Materials will be published by the PMC in Spring 2019