Something for Nothing: Pictorial and Material Austerity in the Visual Arts of the Middle Ages

Call for Papers: International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 11-14 July, 2011

Something for Nothing: Pictorial and Material Austerity in the Visual Arts of the Middle Ages

The use of lavish materials to manifest invisible spiritual truths has long been a prominent theme in discussions of medieval art, but medieval artists and patrons also turned to visual austerity and representations of poverty in order to convey their spiritual ideals, and an emphasis on forsaking worldly goods for the greater riches of salvation played a significant role in defining the subject matter and shaping the pictorial strategies of the visual arts. Objects, paintings and other visual arts were skillfully used to promote ideals of poverty, to mediate tensions between earthly and spiritual wealth, or to manipulate the perception of wealth. The papers in this session will offer new perspectives on how artists, patrons and viewers understood and used austerity as a tool in visual communication.

Papers should be 20 minutes in length, to be delivered in English.

Please send abstracts of not more 250 words to Kathryn Gerry by Friday, 24 September, 2010 – email (preferred): or post: K. Gerry, Dept. Medieval Art, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21218 USA.

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