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Rubens and the Human Body

Friday 17 September 2010, 9.00AM

Two-Day International Conference, University of York 17-18 September 2010


The conference is divided into two distinct, yet closely interrelated sections. Sections I to IV are dedicated to the invention and creation which generated and defined the Rubensian body. Workshop practises drew on a great variety of artistic and anatomical sources from media as diverse as drawings, prints, sculpture and painting thus forging complex relationships between designers, artists, printers etc. To what extent and how do Rubensian representations of the human body denote forms and practises from these media and vice versa? What painterly techniques are involved in producing the fleshiness and amplitude of the Rubensian bodies? How do these agents and processes impact on the specific visual and intellectual characteristics (such as notions of gender[ing], artistic identity etc) of the Rubensian body?

Sections V to VIII on the following day will then further the discussion by investigating how these production practises informed the meaning of the Rubensian nude. Discussions will be focused on the way in which the pictorial strategies in the form of specific figurations or painterly effects generate or even undermine the interpretation thus transforming the image into a contested field of force. Papers will not only focus on individual image categories such as allegorical, mythological paintings, and, as a sub-category, the ‘Bacchic’ bodies, but will also question to what extent contemporary philosophical and recent scientific discoveries influenced the Rubensian nude. The discussion will therefore be based on evidence as wide-ranging as political, dietary, scientific and philosophical tractates and texts which circulated in Rubens’ social network or are known to have been in his library.


For full details see the Rubens and The Human Body Page

Location: Berrick Saul Building