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CRRS Friday Workshop: Ethan Matt Kavaler (Department of Art) “Power and Performance: the Bruges Mantelpiece to Charles V”

October 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Power and Performance: The Bruges Mantelpiece to Charles V

Ethan Matt Kavaler
Interim Director, Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies
Professor, Department of Art


Power & Performance


How were political art works able to mediate between rival interests, to enhance the power and presence of rulers while buttressing the competing rights and privileges of their subjects? And in what ways did sculpture address these problems that painting could not? The carved mantelpiece dedicated to Charles V in Bruges is a revealing example that derives its agency partly from rituals designed to reconcile these conflicting demands.

The mantelpiece, with its life-size statues encroaching on communal space, could induce a series of performances by beholders, structured by memories of previous social and political practices. Such monuments might best be explored through notions of performativity, of collective acts both executed and retraced that regulated power relationships. Their spatial, plastic, and material properties are all essential to its efficacy in shaping beliefs and framing public interaction.



Ethan Matt Kavaler is Professor of Art History and Interim Director of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria University in the University of Toronto. He is the author, most recently, of Renaissance Gothic: Architecture and the Arts in Northern Europe 1470-1540 (Yale University Press, 2012) and of several essays on issues of ornament, artistic mode, periodization and Late Gothic architecture. Professor Kavaler has also written on early modern secular painting in the Low Countries (Pieter Bruegel: Parables of Order and Enterprise, Cambridge University Press, 1999).  His current work is on Netherlandish sculpture of the sixteenth century. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Archeology of Belgium and a former member of the managing committee of the Historians of Netherlandish Art.



October 17, 2014
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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