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Upcoming Conference—MANET: THEN AND NOW


@ Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Hailing from the origins of modern art and capitalist culture in the mid-nineteenth century, Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) has emerged in the past century as a crucial touchstone for many of our most pressing contemporary visual concerns. His pictorial narratives of modern life—intensely fragmented, disjointed, flat and anti-expressive, full of eyes looking directly at us—have been taken to speak deeply to the vexed ontologies of the modern and postmodern image by artists and thinkers as diverse as Michel Foucault, Jeff Wall, Pablo Picasso, Georges Bataille, or Victor Burgin. On the basis of new scholarship on Manet himself, this conference sets out to understand his important legacy in 20th-century art, testing the thesis (among others) that Manet’s fragmented and allegorical sense of history provides one of the origin points of the (post)modern itself. By coupling Manet scholars with experts of 20th-century art and thought, this event seeks to provide Manet studies with contemporary conceptual frames and scholars of contemporary culture with a prehistory stretching back well into the nineteenth century.


Manet’s art touches deeply on some of the crucial questions of contemporary art historical scholarship as well: the legacies of abstraction; painting’s place within new orders of image reproduction; art under global industrial capitalism; modern and contemporary art’s obsession with identity and identification (ethnic, gendered, classed); the modern struggle over freedom and constraint, individualism and the state, and so on. This full-day event has therefore been divided into the following three panels: “Manet and Empire,” “Manet and the Abstract” and “Manet and Reproduction.” The confirmed speakers are Carol Armstrong, Huey Copeland, Therese Dolan, André Dombrowski, Briony Fer, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Nancy Locke, Susan Sidlauskas, Kaja Silverman, and Margaret Werth.


This program is made possible by the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Program in Contemporary Art. Programming at ICA has been made possible in part by the Emily and Jerry Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and the Visual Arts and the Lise Spiegel Wilks and Jeffrey Wilks Family Foundation; and Hilarie L. & Mitchell Morgan. Further sponsorship provided by the Department of the History of Art, the Program in Visual Studies and the Mellon Foundation. Please contact Ekin Pinar,, or André Dombrowski,, for further information.



9:15 – 9:45 Coffee

9:45 – 10:00 Welcome (Amy Sadao, Kaja Silverman and André Dombrowski)

10:00 – 12:30 Manet and Empire

Chair: Lindsay Grant, UPenn

Therese Dolan (Temple University), “Fringe Benefits: Manet’s Olympia and Her Shawl”

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (University of California, Berkeley), “Still Thinking About Olympia’s Maid”

Huey Copeland (Northwestern University), “ ‘The Negress, the Bouquet, the Cat’: Olympia’s Other Forms of Life”

André Dombrowski, (University of Pennsylvania)“Manet’s Fifer and Hereditary Power”


12:30 - 1:30 Lunch break


1:30 – 3:30 Manet and Reproduction

Chair: Alex Klein, ICA

Susan Sidlauskas (Rutgers University), “Photo/Painting: Manet and Mlle. E. G.”

Nancy Locke (Pennsylvania State University), “Visible Specters, Images in the Atmosphere”

Kaja Silverman (University of Pennsylvania), “Ruined Pictures: Jeff Wall’s Manet”


3:30 – 4:00 Coffee break


4:00 – 6:00 Manet and the Abstract

Chair: Kate Kraczon, ICA

Carol Armstrong (Yale University), “Ceci n’est pas une prostituée"

Margaret Werth (University of Delaware), “Manet, Mallarmé, and the Shadow"

Briony Fer (University College London/Institute of Fine Arts, NYU), “Manet Backwards"


6:00 – 6:30 Final Discussion


6:30 – 7:00 Reception


Organized by Kaja Silverman and André Dombrowski, University of Pennsylvania, History of Art.