Please join the Slavery and Visual Cultures Working Group on April 13 when we will welcome a public lecture with Anne Lafont (French National Institute of Art History in Paris) presenting a talk on “How did Skin Color become a Racial Marker ? The Contribution of Art in the Eighteenth Century.” The event will be held from 4:30 to 6pm in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center, room 157
Reception to follow.
Drawing from philosophical debates regarding the Enlightenment, the abolition of slavery, human diversity and racial categorization, as well as aesthetics discourses I explore in this talk the way in which fine arts participated in the impulse to compare, classify, and rank human beings throughout the eighteenth century. My goal is to better define the instrumental role played by the art of painting in the process of anchoring race into skin color in the era of intensification of Atlantic slavery. My focus will mainly be on the picturing of White and Black people because, as a significant ensemble of western artistic and visual material of the eighteenth century demonstrates, the painted representation of such figures formed the key landmarks through which both theoretical debates and works of art reckoned with and defined the emerging notion of race.
Anne Lafont is a historian of the arts and visual cultures of the modern world. Her work bears principally on art in an eighteenth-century imperial context and on arts historiography in the contemporary era. Associate Professor in Art History at the University of East Paris/Marne-la-Vallée (UPEM) since 2003, she joined the French National Institute of Art History in Paris (INHA) in 2007. There, she has been engaged for five years in historiographical research programs (art and science ; art and nationalism ; gender studies and art discourses) and become editor-in-chief of the INHA review Perspective. She is the author of a monograph on French painter Girodet (Paris: Adam Biro, 2005) and the editor of Plumes et pinceaux. Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe 1750-1850, 2 vols (Paris: Presses du Réel, 2012). She just completed a book on Art and Race in the Age of Enlightenment, a topic on which she has already published numerous articles