Art History: The “Arabesque” in Sixteenth-Century Italy – School of Literature, Art and Media Art History: The “Arabesque” in Sixteenth-Century Italy – School of Literature, Art and Media

Art History: The “Arabesque” in Sixteenth-Century Italy

Robert Brennan: The “Arabesque” in Sixteenth-Century Italy: The Making and Breaking of a Concept

This paper investigates the “arabesque” as a term and concept that emerged in sixteenth-century Italy to describe motifs deriving from Islamic art. Examining discussions of the arabesque in three distinct media — painting, metalwork, and embroidery — it shows how the concept developed alongside conscious projects of imperialist appropriation, but also inadvertently furnished a theoretical basis for a highly conflicted affirmation of women as “divine” artists. It also considers the extent to which the Renaissance concept laid the groundwork for subsequent conflations between the “arabesque” and the “grotesque,” focusing in particular on its intersection with early modern conceptions of race.

This event will be held online via Zoom.

Other seminars  this semester:

27 August        Nicholas Croggon, ‘The Pure Switch: Video Abstraction in the 1970s’

3 September   Ivan Cerecina, ‘Montage as Art Historical Method in Post-War France: Malraux, Resnais, and the Animation of Culture’

10 September Richard Smith, ‘From action-image to image-action: telepresence and the cinema of global telecommunications’

24 September Susan Potter, ‘Friendship as a way of filmmaking: Revisiting Blue (dir. Derek Jarman, 1993)’, Cindy Evelyn Magara, ‘The Griot Aesthetic in East African Cinema’

1 October        Andrew Ward, ‘Space, time, and the limits of painting in the early work of Vija Celmins’

22 October      Ann Elias, ‘Fish-Eye Points of View and Modern Culture’

29 October      Stephanie Swanson ‘The Triumph of Death in Trecento Italy’

Ann Sutherland, ‘Two expatriate Australian painters: two continents’

5 November    Scholars Forum: ‘At home in the World’

Chair: Kate Davidson, Contributions by: Donna Brett, Kate Davidson,  Mark De Vitis, Mary Roberts

19 November  Scholars Forum: ‘Museums as sites of civil society: Conversations with audience in the 21st century’, Chiara O’Reilly, Anna Lawrenson, Lee-Anne Hall




Aug 20 2020


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm



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