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A painting of a pirate ship with a couple of sailors looking at a man on land

Materials, Labor and Time: Toward an Ecology of Early Modern Art

Monday, February 12, 2024
5:00 pm
Alumni Hall 001

What does it mean to think of environmental justice within a historical framework? What is the utility of the term ecology, especially when studying periods before that concept had been discovered? Looking at the history of painting on stone, this paper will uncover untold stories about the renaissance. Painting on large slabs of portable stone began in Rome around 1530. The history of this phenomenon has largely been told through the lens of its inventor, Sebastiano del Piombo, and the other major artists who followed in his footsteps. Rather than focus on artists, this paper will look at the materials that artists used and trace the history of those materials and their extraction from the earth in order to narrate a more humane and inclusive history of Renaissance painting.

Dr. Christopher Nygren is associate professor of early modern art in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, philosophy, and art in the Italian Renaissance. His 2020 book, Titian’s Icons: Charisma, Tradition, and Devotion in the Italian Renaissance, re-examined one of the leading lights of Italian Renaissance painting to reveal the lasting impact of Christian icons on Titian’s career, and it was awarded the Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies by the Renaissance Society of America.  He recently completed his second book-length project that investigates the phenomenon of painting on stone substrates, which emerged in Italy around 1530. This project is titled Sedimentary Aesthetics: Painting on Stone and the Ecology of Early Modern Art

Christopher Nygren
Christopher Nygren
Associate Professor of Early Modern Art at the University of Pittsburgh