Under the Greek Sky: Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann
A Conference at King's College London and The Warburg Institute, 15-16 June 2017
2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the German classicist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, commonly regarded as the founding father of both archaeology and art history. Winckelmann’s writings heralded a revolution in approaches to the history of ancient art and culture, as well as contributing to the spread of neoclassical taste throughout Enlightenment Europe. This conference will re-evaluate Winckelmann’s legacy and his influence on art theory since the 18th century. The concept of imitation, central to Winckelmann’s theories and writings, proves to be a linchpin for modern ideas about the diffusion, appropriation, and musealization of art.
The first day of the conference will focus on the ‘culture’ of imitation. Winckelmann famously claimed, paradoxically, that one has to imitate Greece in order to become inimitable. From a range of historical and artistic perspectives, papers map the consequences this claim had for art’s theory, practice, and body politics since the 18th century. The second day will discuss the ‘nature’ of imitation, and the consequences of the ecological boundaries set for it by Winckelmann. It will explore the implications of Winckelmann's climate theory for neoclassical geographies of art and contemporary debates on aesthetic relativism in the age of nationalism.
The conference will conclude with a 'Walking Seminar' at the British Museum with Ian Jenkins.
The conference is organised by Katherine Harloe (Reading University), Hans Christian Hönes (The Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Research Group), Daniel Orrells (King’s College London) and Sadie Pickup (Christie's). Additional support has been provided by the British Museum, the Institute of Classical Studies and Christie’s Education.