Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building
How can we calibrate a scholar’s compass on a journey into the history of relief sculpture? In a world that privileges the flat image on canvas or computer screen, and still reveres sculpture in the round, I propose to rehabilitate relief as a driving force in the history of art. Visual relief effects across media help to form cultural environments by intertwining collective and individual modes of perception. Considering relief as symbolic form, three case studies from the Medieval Baltic, Renaissance Mediterranean, and Global Contemporary sequentially raise the question of presence, individualization, and democratization as categories for a dynamic theory of relief. This project relates brick reliefs from Baltic cathedrals to the artistic dialogue between Donatello and Mantegna in sculpture and painting as a crucial moment for the intellectual foundations of early modernity. Finally, modern brick relief sculpture and contemporary practices of relief carving in North America indicate the persistence of the medium as cultural agent into the present day.
Henrike C. Lange holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Art History and Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in European medieval and early modern art, architecture, visual culture, and literature in relation to the Mediterranean. Lange has a second area of expertise in nineteenth and twentieth century historiography, literature, and art in Europe and the United States. Her scholarship focuses on questions of perspective, narrative, medium, materiality, and metaphysics in specific historical contexts. Lange’s art historical practice and teaching are informed by her curatorial background and work experience in German, Italian, American, and British museum collections. Henrike Lange is a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Notre Dame (2017-2018) where she is preparing her current book manuscript, Giotto’s Triumph: The Arena Chapel, the Roman Jubilee of 1300, and the Question of Modernity.