Art Focus
Lecture Series 2011

Art Focus lectures offer members and non-members opportunities to expand their knowledge of art through lectures, seminars, and workshops with faculty, curators, art experts, and artists.

Art Focus lectures are open to all with a discount for Cantor Arts Center members. If a lecture is oversubscribed, members will be given priority. If space allows, a single session of a lecture series may be attended for a fee of $25. For more information or to become a member please call the Membership Office at 650-723-3482 or click here.

All lectures take place in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium from 4:15 to 6:15 pm. Registration Form

Chiaroscuro: The Art of Light
Wednesdays, February 2, 9, and 16

Displacing a Hollywood Myth: The Real Vodoun
Wednesday, February 23

A Woman’s Touch: Great Women Artists from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
Thursdays, March 3, 10, and 17

German Expressionism: From Liebermann to Dix
Wednesdays, March 30, April 6 and 13

With Liberty and Justice for All: 18th- and 19th-Century American Art
Thursdays, April 21, 28, and May 5

California Contemporary: The Book as a Work of Art
Thursday, May 12

Chiaroscuro: The Art of Light
Patrick Hunt, who earned his Ph.D. at University of London, has taught at Stanford University since 1993 and is an associate at the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His many published books include Caravaggio; Rembrandt: His Life in Art; and Renaissance Visions: Myth and Art.

Leonardo da Vinci is often credited with the reinvention of chiaroscuro in Renaissance drawing and painting. The development of light nuances, however, can be traced from early Renaissance artists Ugo da Carpi and Domenico Beccafumi as well as Albrecht Dürer. Its fullest development was by Caravaggio and his tenebrist followers through to Rembrandt in media including woodcuts, engravings, and paintings.

  • Chiaroscuro’s antecedents from Roman fresco to Renaissance painting and engraving
  • Chiaroscuro’s glory in Italy climaxing in baroque drama
  • Chiaroscuro’s legacy through Utrecht and the Dutch golden age and beyond

Wednesdays, February 2, 9, and 16
member: $75, non-member: $90 Registration Form

Displacing a Hollywood Myth: The Real Vodoun
Barbara Thompson, the Center's Phyllis Wattis Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas, has served as curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College and as adjunct assistant professor of Art History and Anthropology at the University of Iowa where she received her Ph.D. in Art History. She specializes in East African healing arts and African ceramic and contemporary arts. Her exhibitions often address the crossover between historic, contemporary, and global artistic practices.

Voodoo, zombies, black magic…these are terms familiar to Western audiences who have been exposed to comic books, music, newspapers, and Hollywood films focused on the “gods of ghoul.” Stereotypical images of “voodoo magic” have fascinated and terrified consumers. They have also grossly distorted the real West African religion of Vodoun and its trans-Atlantic offshoots, thus begging the question: What is real and what is imagined? This presentation will summarize the development of the Hollywood myth of voodoo followed by a discussion about the realities of Vodoun, a global religion that uses art to express the nature of spiritual experiences.

Wednesday, February 23
member: $25, non-member: $30 Registration Form

A Woman’s Touch: Great Women Artists from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
Denise Erickson, professor of Art History at Cañada College and local lecturer, presents the role of women in art history as a rich, colorful, and complicated tapestry. This series focuses on women of ideas, skill, and ambition—whether muse, model, patron, or professional—whose brilliance, passion, and originality are a timeless testament to the creativity that blooms with a woman in the studio.

  • Women Artists Discovered
    Artemesia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
  • Making a Good Impression
    Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, and Marie Bracquemond
  • Women in Love
    Claudel and Rodin, Kahlo and Rivera, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz 

Thursdays, March 3, 10, and 17
member: $75, non-member: $90 Registration Form

German Expressionism: From Liebermann to Dix
Brigid Barton, professor emerita in Modern Art History at Santa Clara University, earned her B.A. at Barnard College and her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. Her specialties are French and German modernism. Recently she has been teaching in the Stanford Continuing Studies Program and at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Professor Barton will give an overview of German modernist art from the late 19th century through the Roaring Twenties. Comparisons with French modernism will be included as well as a discussion of the unique character of German culture in this era.

  • Impressionist Max Liebermann and German realism
  • Die Brücke and the emergence of German expressionism
  • German artists of the New Objectivity: George Grosz and Otto Dix

Wednesdays, March 30, April 6 and 13
member: $75, non-member: $90 Registration Form

With Liberty and Justice for All: 18th- and 19th-Century American Art
Bryan J. Wolf is the Jeanette and William Hayden Jones Professor in American Art and Culture at Stanford University. He currently serves as co-director of the Stanford Arts Initiative as well as co-director of the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts. Teaching American art, literature, and visual culture, he has written books on 19th-century American art as well as Vermeer and early modern culture. He recently completed American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity, a co-authored textbook of the history of visual arts in the United States.

Considering the art and literature of the young American nation, what role did the arts play in the shaping of American democracy? In addition to major American painters from John Singleton Copley to Winslow Homer, we will discuss selected literary texts.

  • Revolution
    Long before 1776, Americans had unofficially declared their independence from England through their art. The cultural revolution that surrounded and preceded the political revolution included developments in art, commerce, and religion that helped shape a new national consciousness. Painter John Singleton Copley and inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin will be highlighted. 
  • Democracy
    American artists have long questioned how to create art that supports democratic values. Topics to be explored include how 19th-century artists portrayed the young nation as an extended family; how they imagined the future by inventing shared stories about the past; and how they confronted and sometimes avoided the vexing problems of race and class in a democratic society. We will examine scenes of everyday life as painted by George Caleb Bingham and William Sydney Mount, as well as related poems by Emily Dickinson.
  • Landscape
    Landscape painting played a central role as Americans tried to imagine themselves as a unified nation. Paintings of the New England countryside or the Hudson River Valley provided images of national harmony even as the nation was marching towards civil war. The landscape embodied an older Jeffersonian promise of independence and self-sufficiency, although artists also included hints of darker forces in their work.

Thursdays, April 21, 28, and May 5
members: $75, non-member: $90 Registration Form

California Contemporary: The Book as a Work of Art
Peter Rutledge Koch began working in print when he founded Montana Gothic: A Journal of Poetry, Literature, and Graphics, Black Stone Press, and a letterpress printing office in 1974. Moving to San Francisco in 1979, he served a one-year apprenticeship with Adrian Wilson at the renowned Press in Tuscany Alley. His books and artworks have been the subject of major solo exhibitions at the New York Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Widener Library at Harvard University. In 2005 he created the CODEX Foundation to preserve and promote the arts of the book. For the past 18 years he has taught the history of the book as a work of art at UC Berkeley.

Peter Koch will contextualize the books he chose as curator of the Cantor Arts Center exhibition The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Presses. He has selected five presses that exemplify the book arts in California today. His lecture will illustrate the inner vision of the curator and will discuss each press briefly to point out the art that richly illustrates the varieties of content, media, and collaborative methods employed by each press.

Thursday, May 12
member: $25, non-member: $30  Registration Form



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