Winter Speaker Series: Ben Davis

January 26, 2019 2:00 pm Griswold House

"The Character of the Artist & the Artist as a Character"

Ben Davis, National Contemporary Art Critic for Artnet News

Since Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, the place of the artist in society has been inseparable from the myth of the artist’s life. In this lecture, we take a look at the kinds of stories society has cultivated about artists on film in the last century, and what those stories tell us about the changing place of art in the contemporary imagination. Starting with the 1934 film The Affairs of Cellini, about the philandering Renaissance goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, to John Houston’s florid Toulouse-Lautrec biopic Moulin Rouge (1952), Julian Schnabel’s knowing Basquiat (1996), and Julie Taymor’s steamy Frida (2002), we’ll look at the evolution of the artist on film, and how certain archetypal conflicts and character traits recur and shift emphasis. In some ways, it is this repeating myth, more even than the art to which it is attached, that society needs from its artists. The evolution and mutation of the artist as myth illuminates an aspect of how and why visual art persists into the present and remains relevant.

Each lecture will be followed by audience Q&A, and continued conversation in the galleries over  hot tea, coffee, and scrumptious light fare and desserts, courtesy of Blenheim-Newport, a Benchmark Senior Living Community.

Ben Davis is a National Art Critic for Artnet News. Previously he was the editor of the Fundamentals of Architecture, a catalogue for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, a Senior Writer for Artinfo, Executive Editor for Artinfo, and Associate Editor of Artnet Magazine. His book 9.5 Theses on Art and Class (Haymarket Books, June 2013) was selected as the Best of 2013 by Art in America and nominated in 2014 for “Best Work of Criticism” by the International Association of Art Critics. In addition to Artnet News, his essays and art criticism have been published by Frieze, The New York Times, and Slate.

Thank you to our generous sponsors

Lee C. Bakalarski
Lockett Ford Ballard, Jr., in memory of Canon Lockett Ford Ballard & Charlotte Carr Morrinson Ballard
Johanna and Ronald Becker
Anita and George Furbish
Mary Jennings
Cynthia Sinclair
Kathleen Shinners
The Hope Foundation

This event is made possible by your support of the Annual Fund.

Thank you to the Winter Speaker Series Committee

Dick Hunt, Chairman
Burt Alpert
Bruce Amand
Johanna Becker
Eleanor Doumato
Jack Galvin
Anne DeBose Joslin
Susan Kieronski
Cristin Searles-Bilodeau
Kathleen Shinners