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History of Art pres.

The Agency of Color: Art and Race in Eighteenth Century

Anne Lafont

Nattier Nattier
In this lecture, I would like to better define the instrumental role played by the arts of color in the surprising process of articulating the category of race to that of skin color. While natural history, political history, aesthetics have already been the subject of remarkable historical and epistemological work regarding the emerging category of race under the Ancien Régime, there seems to be, still, a compelling case to address by studying the role of images and of fine arts in their expository and material specificities. Indeed, I would like to expose how, in the Eighteenth Century, their very means were fundamentally entangled with the anchoring of race in skin color.

Anne Lafont is associate professor in art history at the University of East Paris/Marne-la-Vallée. In 2007 she joined the French National Institute of Art History (INHA). There, she was engaged for five years in historiographical research programs (art and science; art and nationalism; gender studies and art discourses) before becoming editor-in-chief of the INHA review Perspective. Lafont is the author of a monograph on the french painter Girodet (Paris: Adam Biro, 2005). She has edited Plumes et pinceaux. Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe 1750-1850, 2 vols (Paris: Presses du Réel, 2012) and she just completed a book on Art and Race in the Age of Enlightenment after having published numerous articles on this topic.
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