Event Date: 1, 2 and 6 June 2016
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
T. J. Clark Masterclass – Heaven and Earth According to Bruegel
This Masterclass – which is spread over three sessions – will revolve around a painting by Bruegel, The Land of Cockaigne (Munich, Alte Pinakothek), done in 1567, the year the Duke of Alva brought a Spanish army to the Netherlands to try to end Protestant revolt in the colony. Bruegel’s painting is a vision of the hereafter, building on materials drawn from peasant culture, launched at a moment of bitter religious strife. An account of Bruegel’s imagining of heaven on earth, and of his wider treatment of Christian and other eschatologies, will form the first chapter of a book in preparation, Heaven on Earth: Bruegel, Giotto, Poussin, Veronese. The Masterclass will outline the preoccupations of the book, and its possible relevance in a time like the present, of renewed apocalyptic politics and wars of religion. Thinking about Bruegel and the other artists in the book is, among other things, my way of pursuing issues – of political temporality, and reform versus revolution – broached in an essay, ‘For A Left With No Future,’ published in New Left Review in 2012, and as a booklet in Brazil the following year.
T. J. Clark was born in Bristol, England in 1943, took a B.A. in Modern History at Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in Art History at the Courtauld Institute, University of London. He taught at various places in Britain and the USA, and from 1988 to the present at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is now George C. and Helen N. Pardee Chair Emeritus. Clark is the author of a series of books on the social character and formal dynamics of modern art: The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France 1848-1851 (1973); Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution (1973); The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers (1984); and Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (1999); as well as Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (written with ‘Retort’, 2005); The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing (2006); and Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica (2013). In 2013 he co-authored (with Anne M. Wagner) Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, a book accompanying an exhibition at Tate Britain. A book-cum-pamphlet on the present state of Left politics, Por uma esquerda sem futuro, was published in Brazil, also in 2013. For the past several years he has written art criticism regularly for the London Review of Books. He is completing a book entitled Heaven on Earth: Bruegel, Giotto, Poussin, Veronese; and, as visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, is working on another called The Thing in Itself: Essays on Cézanne.