Claudia Swan, Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, will lecture about "Art, Nature, Fabrication" on Friday, December 8, at 4 PM in the Elvehjem Building, Room L150, on the University of Wisconsin Campus. The Elvehjem Building is at 800 University Ave. and is part of the Chazen Art Museum.
The often complex, always productive, and sometimes vexed relationship between art and nature is an august topos of early modern European culture—and of artistic production in particular. The relationship between art and nature played out across a variety of arenas in the early modern era. One arena in which the principles and products of art and nature were cultivated is the collection—and in particular, the sorts of collections referred to as Wunderkammern, chambers of wonder. The complex artifacts that epitomize Wunderkammer collections were prized for seeming the products of art and nature alike. This paper focuses on one such artifact, the shell vessel or Nautiluspokal, produced in large numbers around 1600. Fabricated objects that embody the play of art and nature, shell vessels emblematize the relationship between collecting and trade, and the commercialization and collecting of rare, foreign, curious, exotic items—nacre and lucre.
Photographers may speculate if Edward Weston's nautilus shell series was made with awareness of the the shell vessel or Nautiluspokal that this lecture will discuss.
Co-sponsored by the Medieval Studies Program, the Center for Early Modern Studies, the Center for Visual Cultures, and the Department of Art History.