See more of the Art History Department’s fall 2015 newsletter
Professor Amy Freund’s book Portraiture and Politics in Revolutionary France (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014) received SMU’s Godbey Author’s Award.
Art and Vision in the Inca Empire – Adam Herring
In 1532 CE the Inca empire encompassed nearly all of South America’s Andean region—most of the modern Republic of Perú, as well as significant portions of Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. That empire’s leaders first met the Europeans on the afternoon of 15 November 1532, when a large Inca army confronted Francisco Pizarro’s band of 168 adventurers at Cajamarca, Perú. At few other moments in its history would the Inca royal leadership so aggressively expound its claims to moral authority and political power. At no other point would European observers be so attentive to that cultural expression, nor so assiduous in committing their impressions to writing.
In Vision at Inca Cajamarca (Cambridge University Press), Professor Herring takes up the encounter at Cajamarca to offer a fresh interpretation of Inca art and culture. His analysis examines five incidents of visual experience at Cajamarca: the panorama of animals grazing in a distant valley; the haze of a semi-transparent cloth; fabric patterns along a hillside; sunlight off yellow metal; the glint of a stray human hair. Restored to inquiry, those episodes of vision vest the episode at Cajamarca with new historical and ethical dimensions. They also compel revised understandings of pre-contact Inca visual art, spatial practice, and bodily expression.
A Printed Icon in Early Modern Italy – Lisa Pon
In 1428 a devastating fire destroyed a schoolhouse in the northern Italian city of Forlì, leaving only a woodcut of the Madonna and Child that had been tacked to the classroom wall.
The people of Forlì carried that print–now known as the Madonna of the Fire–into their cathedral, where two centuries later a new chapel was built to enshrine it. In A Printed Icon in Early Modern Italy: Forli’s Madonna of the Fire (Cambridge University Press), Professor Lisa Pon considers a cascade of moments in the Madonna of the Fire’s cultural biography: when ink was impressed onto paper at a now-unknown date; when that sheet was recognized by Forlì’s people as miraculous; when it was enshrined in various tabernacles and chapels in the cathedral; when it or one of its copies was–and still is–carried in procession. In doing so, Dr. Pon offers an experiment in art historical inquiry that spans more than three centuries of making, remaking, and renewal.