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University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) pres.

Lecture by Caroline Arscott William Morris Carpets: Action in Design

The Department of the History of Art, in collaboration with the Nineteenth-Century Forum, the Department of English, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, is pleased to present a guest lecture by Caroline Arscott, Professor and Head of Research at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

Since conception in the nineteenth century, British artist William Morris’s designs for hand-knotted carpets have primarily been discussed in terms of their naturalism and abstraction. Rather than focusing on this polarity, however, Professor Arscott will consider Morris’s intimations of action, which the artist associated with the pictorial and which he considered to be one of the great resources of oriental carpet design. Professor Arscott will address the knot as it relates to the substance of the pile and the interlace of the design, in addition to its significance for Victorian mathematics. She seeks to establish the ways in which ornament can function as a mode of the pictorial in an Arts and Crafts context. Her approach is international in scope, and will include a consideration of Morris’s sources in Safavidic carpet design as well as his awareness of Riegl's discussion of cloud band motifs in carpets.

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