Event Date: 27 March 2019
Clore Management Centre
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
Capitalism Without Images
A lecture by T.J. Clark
Speaker: Professor T. J. Clark, Visiting Professor at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (Oct 2016 – Sept 2019) and Professor Emeritus of Modern Art at University of California, Berkeley.
Chair: Professor Jacqueline Rose (Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities)
What would it be like for the image-world of our present societies to start to fail? Could there be a moment at which the magic of the screen — the endless promise of the image-life — begins to wear thin? Are we anywhere near the beginning of such a moment? And how, if we are, should we respond to it? On the principle ‘know thine enemy’, this lecture looks again at the strange phenomenon called advertising, and wonders what would be involved (what disappointments would be demanded of us) in leaving its picture of life behind.
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 distinctive forms, and social and political character, 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); Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (1999); and Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica (2013). He has had a long association with Retort, the Bay Area group of artists and activists, and in 2005 was partly responsible for Retort’s book Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War.
Clark’s account of the process of looking at two paintings by Poussin, The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing, appeared in 2006. In 2013 he co-curated (with Anne M. Wagner) the exhibition Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life at Tate Britain, and collaborated on a book with the same title. In 2017, on the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica, he co-curated (with Anne M. Wagner) an exhibition at the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid: Pity and Terror: Picasso on the Path to Guernica. A book of the same name accompanied the show. Heaven on Earth: Painting and the Life to Come, with chapters on Bruegel, Giotto, Poussin and Veronese, came out in Fall 2018. A book entitled The Thing Itself: Cézanne, Pissarro, Matisse is in preparation.
Introduction by Professor Jacqueline Rose (Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities)