What is it about Greek and Roman art that still captivates the modern imagination? How can contemporary art help us to see the classical legacy with new eyes? And what can such modern-day responses – situated against the backdrop of others over the last two millennia – reveal about our own cultural preoccupations in the twenty-first century?
The art of ancient Greece and Rome is not just a thing of the past, it also exists in the present day – whether as ideal, antitype or point of departure. During the 2017–2018 academic year, King’s College London is hosting a range of events exploring contemporary responses to classical visual traditions: these will include an exhibition at Bush House in in March/April 2018, organised in collaboration with the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins, and designed to coincide with our co-hosting of the AAH Annual Conference.
Our opening Modern Classicisms workshop on 10th November sets out to explore the contemporary relevance of classical visual traditions: by bringing together art historians, collectors, critics and artists, we aim to examine what the classical artistic legacy means from the vantage-point of contemporary artistic practice. Confirmed artists, speakers and respondents include: Dalya Alberge, Ruth Allen, Tiphaine Besnard, Bruce Boucher, James Cahill, Léo Caillard, Michael Craig-Martin, Matthew Darbyshire, Charlotte Higgins, Brooke Holmes, Nick Hornby, Jessica Hughes, Patrick Kelley, Polina Kosmadaki, Christopher Le Brun, Lisa Le Feuvre, Christian Levett, Isabel Lewis, Simon Martin, Robin Osborne, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Elizabeth Prettejohn, Marc Quinn, Mary Reid Kelley, Alexandre Singh, Michael Squire, Caroline Vout and Sarah Wilson.
Yves Klein, Blue Venus (cast in 1982), 69cm x 30cm. © Adagp, Paris 2011 / Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins.
Alongside a range of academic papers, there will be interviews with some of today’s most celebrated artists. This workshop will assume the form of a dialogue in the true sense of the word: not only does it stage a conversation between ancient objects and modern respondents, it also includes two-way discussions with some of the leading names in contemporary British art.
The 2017–2018 Modern Classicisms project comes about thanks to the generous financial support of the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins and Christian Levett. Our launch event in November –Modern Classicisms: Classical Art and Contemporary Artists in Dialogue – is co-organised with the Courtauld Institute of Art, in collaboration with the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins and Minerva: The International Review of Ancient Art and Archaeology. Practicalities are being managed by the Arts and Humanities Research Institute at King’s.