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What Does It Mean? Stories and Symbols in Art

All-Day Program

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Code: 1H0328

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"David", ca. 1501-1504, by Michelangelo (Ufizzi, Florence)

Why have stories from Greek and Roman mythology and the Bible engaged, entertained, and even shocked us for centuries? Is it because they grapple with powerful and timeless themes such as mortality and immortality, power and politics, and the body? Lisa Passaglia Bauman, associate professor of art history at George Mason University, shares the mythological and Biblical narratives that have had the greatest impact on the Western tradition. Through an analysis of images, allegories, motifs, and context, she traces the iconography of these enduring stories from their ancient archetypes to contemporary interpretations.

9:30–10:45 a.m.  The Language of Symbols: Image, Text and Meaning

Begin with the basic concepts of iconography, such as attributes and allegories, number and color symbolism, and end with the complex classifications for understanding symbolism in medieval and Renaissance art. 

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Power and Politics: Location and Leaders

Images of leaders are a form of propaganda often used to create a rich and heroic historical pedigree for a ruler. From ancient portraits on Roman coins to current political portrayals, pose, costume, and setting are used to communicate moral and didactic overtones.

12:15–1:15 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own) 

1:15–2:30 p.m.  The Body: Heroism, Love, and Vulnerability

 When we construct images, we construct myths. By looking closely at images of the body, both naked and nude, we can understand what artists were trying to communicate in works such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s David, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino.

2:45–4 p.m.  Mortality and Immortality: Tombs, Monuments, and Memorials

One purpose of a memorial is to get people talking, so that the memories being honored are alive after events and individuals pass into history. From the use of images on tombs to the monuments of Washington, D.C., explore the range and type of symbols that serve that function. 

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit

Location
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)