This lecture will address the way in which a curator builds a collection of new art within the context of a traditional museum. Specific themes that will be discussed include the balance between taste and judgment, new materials and new media, globalism, hybridity, and mystery. The work of artists such as Julie Mehretu, Ryan McGinness, Fred Tomaselli, Kehinde Wiley, Bill Viola, and Teresita Fernandez, among others will be explored.Request Program
Speakers on the Arts
Archived Lectures. Some no longer available. Please visit the Statewide Faculty page for up-to-date listings.
VMFA Speakers on the Arts lectures are an excellent complement to programming at partner sites. They can also introduce new areas of art to Partner audiences and enhance community events and celebrations. A wide selection of topics and speakers is available for VMFA Statewide Partners. See Booking Speakers on the Arts for information about requesting a lecture.
A Succession of Masks: Batman and the Sexual Revolution
In 1954, Batman and Robin were “outed” by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham as closet homosexuals, an accusation that caused the comic’s creators to skirt sexuality in the Batman comics. This presentation parallels Batman and Robin’s plight against the backdrop of gay rights (The Lavender Scare) and women’s lib, from the late 1930s through the 1970s. Subjects covered include the communist witch hunt, the Batman TV show, pop art and camp, the sexually chaotic Batwoman of the Eisenhower era and the liberated Batgirl of the 1960s.Request Program
Scouting the Postmodern Film Frontier
Our current era of art and society, which is now commonly referred to as the “Postmodern,” has been foreshadowed in avant-garde films and videos since the 1920s. This talk will explain and define Postmodernism and show short filmic examples to illustrate, such as works by Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, and Andy Warhol.Request Program
The New 19th Century
This lecture will present the past seven years of acquisitions of 19th-century academic and salon paintings intended to complement the Impressionist paintings in the collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon.Request Program
The Grand Tour: “Spring Break” for the 18th-Century Man
For most young men, the Grand Tour, a hallmark coming-of-age trip through France and Italy, was a folly, but for others it was a completely different experience. With the ever-popular Neoclassical movement continuing to take hold in Europe, artists like Benjamin West saw the Grand Tour as an opportunity for inspiration. Take a grand tour through the art and culture of this era and see how the classical past came alive again in 18th-century Britain and France.Request Program
Icons: Windows into the Divine
Modern viewers often see the icon — a type of religious image still in use in the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches — as a charming and somewhat primitive type of painting. Nothing could be further from the truth. The icon, from its earliest inception, is a highly intellectual and consciously spiritualized image. The beliefs with which icons are infused are so powerful that they have led to their being outlawed for a time in the 8th and 9th centuries, but their meanings are so profound that their use has survived even the most concerted attempts to stifle them. In this lecture, Dr. Schrader introduces the theology behind the icon, briefly recounts the history of icons in the West, and explains the meanings behind some of the most important individual types of religious image.Request Program
Fresco Painting in the Renaissance
Decorating walls with paintings made on fresh plaster is a grimy, laborious practice, which in the Middle Ages was thought to be the most mechanical and craftsman-like task of the painter. Beginning in the 14th century, however, higher artistic standards began to reveal just how splendid a chamber transformed by fresco painting could be. By the end of the 15th century, the fresco painter was hailed as the most ambitious and able artist of all. In this lecture we learn the techniques — good and bad — that mural painters used. See how truly great painters, such as Botticelli and Ghirlandaio in the 15th century and Michelangelo and Raphael in the 16th century, triumphed as fresco artists above all others.Request Program
First Impressions: A Brief History of Early Illustrated Texts
During the mid-15th century, the invention of printing and movable type changed the distribution of the visual medium. In this talk, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts librarian Nick Curotto covers the processes and technology of early printing and assembling of texts with a focus on the incorporation of print illustrations. The techniques of relief and intaglio printing will be discussed highlighting the artists, artisans, and printers who were imperative in the progression of technologies during the hand-press period of the 15th – 18th centuries.Request Program
Climbing the Walls: Building Chartres Cathedral (1150 – 1260)
One hour’s drive southwest of Paris, Chartres Cathedral stands as a magnificently complete example of Gothic architecture, sculpture, and stained glass. But what looks like a unified design is really the result of several extended building campaigns that lasted for years and required the work of many skilled craft persons. Every level of the huge building is accessible through passageways in the thickness of the buttresses. This talk is richly illustrated by the speaker’s images of Chartres Cathedral.
This program has been organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is funded, in part, by the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.Request Program
Captains, Philosophers, Merchants, and Kings: Picturing the 17th Century
This illustrated talk investigates the dramatic changes in the 17th-century technology and philosophy that set the stage for the modern world. Works of art, including portraits, prints, sculptures, and textiles from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, illustrate the shifts in international alliances, economic competition, and world view that are characteristic to this traditional age.Request Program