The Question of Skill
March 2, 2013
Ethan Lasser, Margaret S. Winthrop Associate Curator of American Art, Division of European and American Art, Harvard Art Museums
To explore the concept of skill, this talk will focus on two very different objects in the Art Museums collection—Otto van Meurs’s long-case musical clock from 1750 and Charles Bird King’s 1830 painting The Vanity of the Artist’s Dream. In the periods when they worked, van Meurs and King were regarded as true masters of their craft. But their skill was not manifested in the same way. The clockmaker was celebrated for his dexterity and ability to precisely manipulate ?ne materials. King, on the other hand, was seen as a master of deception, a magician who could fool the viewer into the reading the painted object as real. This talk will use the clock and the painting as a springboard to enter into a broader conversation on the nature of the “well-crafted” object and the ever-shifting de?nition of skill.
Free with the price of admission.
Gallery talks are informal and include discussion. Limited to 25 participants; please arrive early.