Knotholes, Textures, Grains: The "Language of Wood" in Modern Art
February 6, 2013
Monika Wagner, Professor of Art History, University of Hamburg
Only after the creation of synthetic materials during industrialization were imperfections such as the knotholes of wood aesthetically esteemed. During the 19th century in Europe these “faults” served as evidence for the doctrine at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, that of “truth to materials” (John Ruskin). In combination with rough traces of workmanship, wood in expressionist art was celebrated not only as a primordial, but also as a distinctly “Northern” material. Referring to the nationalization of the ubiquitous material, artists such as Anselm Kiefer and the neo-expressionists disclosed the “language of wood” as a Teutonic dialect. Presented in conjunction with a special display in the fourth-?oor galleries focusing on disparate objects made from or with wood.
Free admission. Reception to follow.
The Busch-Reisinger Museum Lectures, sponsored by the German Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, present important speakers on topics of central and northern European art.
Modern and contemporary art programs are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums.