Gallery Talks

Curator Talk
Collection Focus: American Art Glass
Sunday, April 14, 3 pm

Among the Harn Museum’s many hidden treasures is its growing collection of American art glass by two of the movement’s greatest pioneers, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Frederick Carder. Dulce Román, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern Art, will discuss the history and artistry behind these exquisite pieces on display in the Highlights from the Modern Collection exhibition.



Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Symposium
Image, Ornament, Matter: A Symposium of their Limits and Intersections in the History of Art

Crossing boundaries of medium and culture, ornament orders both lived space and the planar surface of its support. This symposium examines the fabrics and frameworks of art history by setting ornament in dialogue with both materialism and pictorialism, in exploration of the limits and intersections of representation, abstraction, and materiality. 


Keynote Lecture: Warburg and World Ornament: An Ethnography of Spaces 
Friday, April 12, 6 pm, Reception to follow.

Spyros Papapetros, Associate Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton University

Following Gottfried Semper’s formulation of “directional adornment (Richtungsschmuck),” this presentation examines ornament as an orientation device for navigating physical and epistemological spaces by drawing from a series of original archival documents recording Aby Warburg’s encounter with the ritual practice and ethnographic literature of Ornamentik from a global perspective. 

7 - 7:30 pm: Reception, Harn Galleria


Saturday, April 13, 9:45 am – 4:30 pm​

9:45 – 10:15 am
Coffee, Harn Galleria 

10:15 – 10:30 am
Ashley Jones, University of Florida
Chandler Auditorium 

10:30 am – noon
Panel 1: Epistemologies of Ornament
Moderator TBD  

10:30 – 11 am
Benjamin Tilghman, Washington College
Divine Intermediality in Anglo-Saxon Manuscript Painting
This talk will argue that the selective addition of pigments and ornamental patterns to Anglo-Saxon manuscript drawings is rooted in a complex understanding of the role of ecclesiastical ornamenta in mediating the human experience of the divine.

11 – 11:30 am
Meekyung MacMurdie, University of Chicago
New Combinations: forming knowledge in The Book of Theriac
This talk contours representational ontologies of painting, ornament, and diagram (Arabic: shakl), arguing for the philosophical underpinnings of one of the most luxurious extent medieval Arabic manuscripts.

11:30 am – noon

Noon – 1 pm
Lunch (on your own)

1 pm – 2:30 pm
Panel 2: The Ornamental Imaginary
moderated by Elizabeth Ross

1 - 1:30 pm
Ashley Jones, University of Florida
The World in a Gem: Representing Ornamental Matter in Late Antiquity
This talk re-examines a discourse that opposes materiality and pictoriality, rooted in Plato’s Republic, in light of late antique and early medieval literary ekphraseis and Christian exegeses of gems and jewelry. Landscapes, creatures, and narratives emerge from close descriptions of the material qualities of gems: their color, their luster, their shape. These literary passages illuminate jewels as color, line, form, and image as well as matter and mineral. As dolphins leap in pearl-foamed seas and emeralds grow like souls in faith, these readings open up fantastical and immaterial planes that rival those of the shields of Achilles and Aeneas, but the grounding of mimesis in materiality draws into question fundamental assumptions concerning the place of the jewel in art in the western tradition. 

1:30 - 2 pm
Megan McNamee, Warburg Institute
The Body of the Geometric Meander in Ottonian Painting
In Buchmalerei des Mittelalters (1984), Otto Pächt observed a “tendency towards ornament” in Year 1000 painting that was “symptomatic of an assimilation process in which organic-representational form succumbs to the imperatives of the principles of page decoration.” The entire subsequent development of medieval illumination was, for him, a battle between two systems of expression: “abstract pattern” on the one hand, and the “logic of palpable reality” on the other. Pächt’s view of early Romanesque painting was not new; his pronouncements (originally delivered in a series of lectures in 1967–68) echo those of Georg Swarzenski, Henri Focillon, and Erwin Panofsky, among others. This paper considers the appearance of the geometric meander in Ottonian illumination and thus explores the role of ornament in the context of “ornamental” painting. In its simplest form, the geometric meander consists of one or more narrow bands that turn at right angles into repeat patterns. Ironically, it was this device—paradigmatic of abstract ornament—that was subjected to “logic of palpable reality” by Ottonian artists, who aligned projection and surface modeling in virtuosic displays of pictorial illusionism that were elsewhere rejected. This paper asks why and examines the phenomenon in light of period optics and image theory.  

2 – 2:30 pm

2:30 – 3 pm
Coffee Break

3 – 4:30 pm
Panel 3: The Mediation of Ornament
moderated by Maya Stanfield-Mazzi, University of Florida

3 – 3:30 pm
Susanna McFadden, Bryn Mawr College
On Ornament and Identity: The Agency of Visual Culture in Late Antique Egypt
This talk focuses on the late Roman wall paintings from Amheida in Egypt's Dakhleh Oasis and the ways in which the study of the site's ornamental motifs can help nuance discussions of identity politics in Egypt as well as contribute to our understanding of late antique decorative strategies locally and internationally.

3:30 – 4 pm
Irene Backus, Oklahoma State University
Medici Porcelain, Impressions of the Other and the Grotesque
From grotteschi to gnarled trees, Medici porcelain absorbed an ecumenical assortment of decorative motifs into both its form and surface decoration.  Evocative of the monstrous unknown, the subterranean realm of the grotto, and a local Italianate antiquity, the grotesque motif offers an exceptionally poignant locus through which to approach the exuberantly ornamental quality of Medici porcelain more broadly.

4 – 4:30 pm


Poetry Readings by Harn Poets-in-Residence

Saturday, May 4, 3 p.m.
Harn Poets-in-Residence Debora Greger, Danny Duffy and Corinne Titus will share the results of their explorations of the objects on view in the exhibition. The poets will read original compositions inspired by works of art such as the Yayoi Kusama painting, Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph, and the Lee Leenam video.