“Titian the Poet”
A lecture by Leonard Barkan
& “Thick Paintings”
A response by Maria Loh
Thursday, October 28 at 6pm est
Part one of the conference
"Visual Poetry: The Politics and Erotics of Seeing—Titian and Beyond”
Co-organized by Felipe Pereda & Shawon Kinew
October 28, 2021 & April 7-8, 2022
Location: Virtual via registration
This talk will take the term poesia, which Titian himself (and others) applied to his paintings, and consider its origins and implications. It will consider its appearances in Vasari’s Lives (where it is not connected to Titian), tracing its associations with actual poetry and with a contemporary sense that certain kinds of paintings had so intimate a connection with lyric and narrative literature that they could be quite casually labeled “poems.” Turning to the mythological works currently on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the lecture will ask what vision of the history of poetry they might embody such that they could be referred to as poems—not in quotation marks, as some sort of metaphoric transfer from the realm of literature, but as a straightforward designation of genre.
This event, organized with the support of the Department of History of Art + Architecture, is the first part of an international conference—The Politics and Erotics of Looking: Titian’s poesie and their Afterlives. For almost two years, some of the most extraordinary mythological paintings made by Titian for King Philip II have been traveling the world: first to London, at the National Gallery; then to Madrid, at the Prado Museum; and finally to Boston, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (open until 2 January 2022). Introduced with titles including words such as “Love,” “Desire,” “Passion,” “Myth,” and “Power,” Titian’s paintings have reminded us, once more, of the fascinating but problematic place that erotic painting holds in the construction of the discourse of early modern art. At the same time, they raise important questions on the nature of modern spectatorship, between humanistic poetics and the invention of voyeurism. Scholars will address these issues while considering not only Titian’s paintings but the development of the genre in the brushes of such painters as Rubens and Velázquez. The second part of the conference is scheduled to take place in Cambridge in the Spring of 2022.