Singing and Music-Making Angels

Term is well and truly underway, with inductions behind us, lecturers and seminars ongoing in many diverse locations around the place (bet you never thought studying art history would take you to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), LOTS of marking (MA dissertations and projects on topics from 14th-century frescos to sports photography), and a whole range of research events planned and ready to be put in your diaries.

You can already go and see the visually striking and thought-provoking exhibition in the Peltz Gallery, Day for Night: Landscapes of Walter Benjamin on until 28 October. In a multi-media display, the various landscapes inhabited by the hugely influential early 20th-century German intellectual Walter Benjamin – from Berlin to Capri and Naples, and ending in Catalunya, Spain, where Benjamin died while fleeing the Nazis in 1940.

The next Murray Seminar, on 16 October, will be on the subject ‘Vestments and Textiles in Hans Memling’s God with Singing and Music-making Angels‘. Lisa Monnas looks at the costumes and textiles in paintings by the fifteenth-century Flemish painter Hans Memling.  How can vestments and other textiles help us understand a painting in new ways, and what can they tell us about broader questions of ‘realism’?

The Murray Seminars are an opportunity to hear and contribute to cutting-edge research, often at the very early stages of work in progress. All are welcome, and they are particularly suited to post-graduates and students considering post-graduate study. All this term’s seminars take place in The Keynes Library (43 Gordon Sq room 114) at 5pm. Talks finish by 5.50pm, allowing those going to classes to leave, and are then followed by discussion and refreshments. Do go along – it’s a fascinating programme.  You can see the poster with all this term’s dates here.

There are still a few (just a few!) places for the two workshops and the big anniversary lecture on 19 October: see my last blogpost for details. Hope to see many of you there.

Really pleased to announce an exciting new series of workshops and advice sessions for those interested in careers in the arts. The School of Arts and the Careers & Employability department have designed a programme of employability events for 2018-2019 tailored to Arts students at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught levels, and including events to suit each department in the School. Here you can download a general information about dates and types of events. The first of these events, Arts: My Unique Ability, will take place on Thursday October 18, 6-7:30, MAL 633. All events are free and open to all students in Arts. Booking here is indispensable.

Two of our students have been doing exciting things out and about, and blogging about it.

Danilo Reis, a final year student in BA History of Art with Curating, was one of the recipients of the 2018 Venice Fellowship, a scheme co-sponsored by the British Council and Birkbeck that allows two Birkbeck students to spend a month in Venice working at the British pavilion in the renowned Venice Biennale and developing an independent research project. Danilo’s written a fascinating account of his time in Venice and his project ‘subverting’ the classic tourist guidebook to the city here.

Adam Coleman, who completed the Graduate Certificate in History of Art and Architecture in 2017-18 and is now on the MA History of Art, had a busy weekend at Open House London, the big architecture festival last month. Not only did he do a bespoke tour of our own 43 Gordon Square, but he initiated and co-led a tour of a very interesting but little-known housing estate in Tottenham, which he had researched for his extended essay on the Grad Cert. He writes about the experience bringing architectural history to a broad audience here.

Staff members have been busy too.

Kasia Murawska-Muthesius was invited to contribute to a conference on the bodily deformation and emotions, Mis-Shapings: The Art of Deformation and the History of Emotions organised by Paolo Gervasi at the Queen Mary University of London, on 13 September. Her paper, ‘Perfetta deformità: Caricature and Embodiment‘, focused on the Seicento art treatises and on the ways of theorising multiple paradoxes of this subversive art form, which strives for perfect deformity instead of perfect beauty, which is capable of achieving likeness through deformation, and which serves as a catalyst in bringing communities together by poking fun on the bodily defects of their members instead of hiding them.

And finally, a new volume of essays has come out entitled Design Dialogue: Jews, Culture and Viennese Modernism, edited by Elana Shapira. It contains two Birkbeck contributions: ‘Myths of the Viennese Cafe: Ephemerality, Performativity and Loss’ by Tag Gronberg, and ‘Modern Architecture and Antisemitism in Early Twentieth-Century Vienna’ by Leslie Topp (me.)