CIHA 2016 in Beijing
34th World Congress of Art HistoryAbout History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed
A Post-Global Vermeer? The Role of Media in Canon Formation and Reformation
Session 21 Connecting Art Histories and World Art
the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
A post-global canon entails rethinking both (Western and non-Western) art and art scholarship, or the representations of art history, including the role of digital media in the process of canon formation and reformation. Johannes Vermeer’s inevitable place in any greater canon is inextricable from the lesser canon of his oeuvre, the individual paintings that make up “Vermeer,” which remain subject to dispute. Just as photographic reproductions played a crucial role in Vermeer’s discovery and becoming part of the Western canon around 1860, we now stand before another paradigm in art historical scholarship insofar as digital media allow for new presentations of an artist’s oeuvre. Here I propose a shift from the nineteenth-century catalogue raisonné, which collects all of a painter’s worksand addresses themindividually, to a cumulativepainting-by-painting digital catalogue of an artist’s gradual development and oeuvre as a whole. This new use of digital media can also address Vermeer’s use of family members as models. Such considerations transform our understanding of the meaning of Vermeer’s paintings from isolated “messages” to parts of his overall progression and artistic vision, a method I call “formalist iconography.” The paintings mistakenly assigned to Vermeer, which were based on his compositions and the same models, interiors, and objects, are most plausibly works by a follower. Hedid not officially register any students, yet he did not have to register his own children as students, and his eldest daughter Maria was old enough to be his apprentice. The paintings assigned to her here can be ordered in turn and inter-related with his paintings through their artistic exchanges, as part of the process of canon formation and reformation in the post-global era.
BenjaminBinstock, a specialist in Renaissance and Baroque art and art historical method, has taught at Columbia University, New York University, the CUNY Graduate Center, and presently the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and haslectured widely in the United States and Europe. His Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice(2009), offers a new account of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings based on his family members as models and the first painting-by-painting chronology of his development. Binstock also proposes that one-fifth of the paintings now attributed to Vermeer were created by his eldest daughter Maria. His thesis was the subject of an all-day conference in 2013 at New York University’s Institute for the Humanities with Anthony Grafton and Chuck Close among others. A visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton (2003-4),and the American Academy of Berlin (2004), Binstock was also a participant in anNational Endowment for the Humanities summer institute in Florence on Leonardo (2013). At New York Universityin 2000 he directed a month-long inter-disciplinary celebration of the philosopher Jacques Derrida with Derrida’s participation shortly before his death. Binstockhas translated, edited, and introduced the work of the pioneering Austrian formalist AloïsRiegl, most recently inAloïsRiegl, Lo Sguardo di Rembrandt (2014).He has also chaired many innovative sessions on methodology and other timely topics at the annual College Art Association conference, including “Subject and Vision in AloïsRiegl’s Art History” (1996); “Comic Genius” (2003); “The Black Nude” (2005); “Rediscovering Vermeer” (2007);“The Contemporary Querelle of Ancients and Moderns” (2011); and “The Studio History of Art” (2015).