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Formlessness and Potentiality: Reflections on Art and Materiality in Fourteenth-Century Byzantium: Keynote Speech by Charlie Barber for the CEMS Graduate Conference on Materiality in the Eastern Mediterranean World

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Saturday, May 29, 2021, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

*This is a keynote lecture for the CEMS online graduate conference on Materiality in the Eastern Mediterranean World.

The first part of this paper will offer some readings of the definitions and use of Matter in a variety of writings, primarily from the early-fourteenth century.  Formlessness, Potentiality, and Harmonics will be discussed as aspects of Materiality.  Works by George Pachymeres and Theodore Metochites will be a particular focus. The second part of the paper will propose a reading of the use of marble in Metochites' church of the Holy Savior in Chora. I will argue that the display of marble in the church was more than a demonstration of material resources.  Its presence speaks to the very identity of the monastery.

Charlie Barber is the Donald Drew Egbert Professor of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. Barber’s area of specialization is the history of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art, with a particular focus on the history and theory of the icon. He has also worked extensively on Byzantine aesthetics and intellectual history and with Byzantine manuscripts. He has written and co-edited a number of books. These include two studies of the contested status of the icon in Byzantium: Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm (2002) and Contesting the Logic of Painting: Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium (2007). Current and future research will lead to books that examine the status of the icon in the 14th and 16th centuries. In addition to presenting papers at numerous domestic and international conferences and symposia, Barber has co-organized several interdisciplinary workshops on Byzantine intellectual history. These have resulted in such publications as Reading Michael Psellos (2006), Medieval Greek Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics (2009), and Michael Psellos on Literature and Art: A Byzantine Perspective on Aesthetics (2017).

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Meeting ID: 956 8438 7299
Passcode: 299336