PUBLIC LECTURE: Colour and Language in Renaissance Venice
A public lecture by Professor Paul Hills, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
If, as the linguist John Lyons has argued, individual colours as distinct from colour as a whole, ‘are the product of the lexical and grammatical structure of particular languages’, the question I wish to raise with reference to Venetian art and culture of the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, is how language directs attention by rendering particular named tints salient in consciousness. How did language divide up the manifold experience of colour in the city, and of the artefacts and artistic representations produced in it? In what ways did the lexicon and grammatical usage of colour terms change or expand in the period between about 1480 and 1580, and what does this imply about patterns of discrimination? And what can the Venetian evidence tell us about which comes first, lexical invention or diversification in manufactures such as polychrome silks. What in short is the relation between the materials of colour, their use in representations such as oil painting, and linguistic practices?
Paul Hills is well known for his publications on light and colour in Italian Renaissance art. He has been a visiting professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York; at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies; and at the Royal College of Art. In 2003 Hills was appointed Andrew Mellon Visiting Professor at the Courtauld, and took up a permanent post there in 2004. In July 2012 he was appointed Emeritus Professor.
Cost: Free, but RSVP essential via https://www.ias.uwa.edu.au/lectures/hills
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