Christensen Distinguished Lecture with Svetlana Alpers

This is an Archive of a Past Event

Instances of Distance: Eckhout in Brazil and the Baule in the Museum

The examples that will be offered -- the Dutch portrayal in the 1640s of peoples living in Brazil and the contemporary display of art from the Cote d’Ivoire in western museums – are a way to consider the conditions under which we make and look at something as art.  Alpers argues that the perception of strangeness is an aspect of how we become conscious of and so come to know anything at all. As such, strangeness is essential to the making and viewing of art.  An important point to make in a world where something referred to as global is claimed to be central to our lives and to our experience of art.

Svetlana Alpers taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1962 to 1994. Her specialty is Dutch Golden Age painting, although she has also written on Tiepolo, Rubens, Breugel, and Velazquez, among others. She is the author of many books including: Rembrandt's Enterprise: The Studio and the Market; Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence; The Art of Describing; The Vexations of Art: Velazquez and Others; The Making of Rubens; and the recently published, Roof Life.

From 1971 to 1976, Alpers served on the Board of Directors for the College Art Association. She co-founded the interdisciplinary journal Representations in 1983. Alpers has been a consultant to both National Public Radio and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has held many visiting academic appointments around the world.

This lecture is made possible by a generous grant from Carmen M. Christensen.