Distinguished Lecture: The Art of Describing: Redundancy, Transformation, Impersonation

November 26, 2017

Professor Margaret Olin, Department of the History of Art, Yale University delivered a Distinguished Lecture titled, “The Art of Describing: Redundancy, Transformation, Impersonation” on November 21, 2016.

The objective of the lecture was to showcase how an artist, describing a work of art, weaves stories about it that preserve its mysteries. According to Professor Olin, “the art historical description, however, uses scholarly methodologies to coax the work into giving up its secrets. Or so it might seem. But this assumption begins to unravel if one views the work of artists and art historians alike as performances. Both artists and scholars of art transform visual material using visual and verbal means.” During the lecture Professor Olin examined visual methods developed by scholars of art in Austria and Germany in the early twentieth century, and verbal methods of describing which developed later in the century in art schools in the United States. 

Margaret Olin delivering lecture in Basement Hall, RICC

Professor Margaret Olin, Professor, Department of the History of Art, Yale University 
delivering the Distinguished Lecture 

Bio-Sketch of Professor Margaret Olin

Professor Margaret Olin is a Professor at Department of the History of Art, Yale University. Prior to arriving at Yale in 2009, Professor Olin was professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the departments of Art History, Theory and Criticism, and Visual and Critical Studies. She is the author of Forms of Representation in Alois Riegl’s Theory of Art (Penn State Press, 1992), The Nation Without Art: Examining Modern Discourses in Jewish Art (University of Nebraska, 2001), and co- editor of Monuments and Memory, Made and Unmade (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Her current research concerns documentary media, Jewish visual culture, and theories of witnessing and commemoration, centering on the following topics: the role of photographic practices in the construction of communities and on interpersonal relationships; sites of human interaction and/or identification, including shared spaces, where people mingle with others in imagination and reality; the impact of perceptual theory on visuality; and the visual construction of Jewish identity. Professor Olin is also co-editor of the journal: Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture, published by Brill. She is also a photographer whose work has been exhibited recently in the United States, Israel, and Germany. In 2012 she curated the multi-venue exhibition Shaping Community: Poetics and Politics of the Eruv at Yale University.

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