Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s seminal text, In Praise of Shadows (1933), discusses Eastern, specifically Japanese, ideals of beauty. Contrary to the Western framework of thinking, Japanese aesthetics favors the in-between, typically discarded or overlooked places of beauty: the grey shadows, the tea ceremony, and even a toilet seat. By looking at examples of Japanese fine and decorative arts, we will discuss Tanizaki’s major ideas concerning Eastern Aesthetics and then apply his understanding to the works in the VMFA permanent collection.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.
The Sacred Architecture of Japan
This lecture explores Shinto and Buddhism, two of the major religions of Japan. The overview includes a discussion of how they developed, their places of worship, their sources, aesthetic principles, and how they are applied to life and art in Japan.Request Program
Japanese Culture during the Edo Period
The Edo Period was the time of shoguns, samurai, Kabuki, and the famous ukiyo-e prints. This lecture provides the context for these elements and discusses the subjects, techniques, and aesthetic principles of the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of Japan.Request Program
Building the Korean Collection at the VMFA
Trace the development of the Korean collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from the first Korean artwork of a 8th-century gilt bronze Buddha that entered the collection in 1969 to the recent purchase of a 19th-century lacquer box. Explore how the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Korean art collection has grown through public donations and museum purchases. The speaker will also introduce the Museum’s first Korean gallery built through the generous support of the Korea Foundation in Seoul.Request Program
Cartier: Innovation & Inspiration
Since the 1890s, the name Cartier has been synonymous with sparkle, glamour, and opulence. But behind the iridescent jewels lies a tale of multiple inventions, famous clients, cutting-edge design, and a love affair with material, color, and fashion. In this lecture, you’ll explore these tales and see examples of the various styles Cartier popularized from 1900 to the 1950s.Request Program
Those Gaudy Ancients: Exploring the Color of Antiquity
We encounter ancient sculptures thousands of years after they were created and can readily imagine the complete form of these statues, despite missing parts and broken bits. But it is much harder to imagine something we hardly ever glimpse — color! Ancient statues were painted, often with bright, gaudy pigments. This lecture explores the color of ancient statues and how modern researchers are discovering surviving traces of those colors in order to recreate sculpture’s original appearance.Request Program
They Don’t Bite! How to approach Greek Vases
Many of us first encounter the art of the ancient Greeks through their vases. Though familiar to us, these apparently simple, functional objects often mystify and even baffle both the young and the old. In this lecture, Peter Schertz demystifies Greek vases by exploring how they were made and used, who made them and the significance of both their shapes and their decoration.Request Program
“It Comes to Life!” Hollywood’s Mummies
Ancient Egypt and specifically mummies have offered highly creative inspiration for feature movies. This presentation will provide film history background on the art and characteristics of this sub-genre and attitudes regarding “exotic” views of Ancient Egyptian culture. 1932’s The Mummy (79 min) with Boris Karloff will be shown with lecture.
An extra fee applies to this two-hour program. Please contact Jeffrey Allison for details.Request Program
Caligula in Color
Briefly explore the life and reign of one of Rome’s most notorious emperors, Caligula! This talk will focus on new insights gleaned from a recent international symposium and research conducted on ancient coloration and the sculptural technique of a 1st-century sculpture of Caligula in the VMFA collection.
Available Feb 2013 – Jul 2014Request Program
Face Value: Portraiture in American Art
Portraiture in American art ranges from folk to classical and from realism to impressionism. Delve into these stylistic variances with a visual exploration of painted portraits of Americans by Americans. Explore works in significant portrait collections across America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.Request Program