Session, College Art Association, 103rd Annual Conference, New York, February 11–14, 2015
For centuries artists, diplomats (ambassadors, consuls, and interpreters), and merchants served as cultural intermediaries in the Mediterranean. Stationed in port cities and other entrepôts of the Mediterranean, these go-betweens forged intercultural connections even as they negotiated and sometimes promoted cultural misunderstandings. They also moved objects of all kinds across time and space. Focusing on the early modern period from roughly 1600 to 1850, this session will consider how the mobility of art is intertwined with diplomatic and trade networks in the international arena of the Mediterranean. With theorist Arjun Appadurai, we consider “ways in which people find value in things and things give value to social relations,” investigating analogies and relationships between the work performed by artists, diplomats and merchants. How does the work of art participate in, foster, or resemble diplomatic negotiation or commercial exchange? Papers investigating any aspect of visual and material culture are welcome.
Panel organizer: Elisabeth Fraser, University of South Florida