Silenced by Aesthetics? A Conjectural Poetics of Art History and Ecology

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What has Art History to do with Ecology? This question, which puts pressure upon art making, the historical study of art, and ecological discourse, is receiving attention from a range of art historians (following partly the interventions of eco-critical artists). This paper takes an avowed conjectural approach, while focusing on two prime "objects," and asks: How does art history, a system of knowledge, concern itself with systems of organisms and habitats constituting planetary ecology? Do art historians practice according to Commoner’s dictum "…everything is connected to everything else" or Bateson’s relations over relata? How might art history contribute to ecological thinking, perhaps in ways that the natural sciences cannot? Are “art objects” “ecological subjects”? What sorts of re-positionings of objects, viewers, and processes might an eco-arthistory offer?


Keywords: Art History, Ecology, Organism, h\Habitat, Eco-Arthistory
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Gregory Levine

Associate Professor of Art History, Department of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA, USA

Gregory Levine received his PhD in the art history of Japan from Princeton University in 1997, joining the Department of History of Art that year. He has written and lectured on the art and architecture of the Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery Daitokuji, the modern construct of “Zen Art,” cultures of exhibition and viewing in premodern and modern Japan, calligraphy connoisseurship and forgery, and the modern collecting and study of “Buddhist art.” Among his recent published writings is “Two (or More) Truths: Reconsidering Zen Art in the West,” in /Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan/ (2007) and /Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery /(2005). His current research focuses on fragments of Buddhist images within devotional and modern contexts in Asia and the West. A portion of this research will appear in an essay “Malraux’s Buddha Heads” in /The Blackwell Companion to Asian Art/ (2010). He is also at work on a book, A Long Strange Journey: Zen Art in the Modern Imagination, and an essay, “Silenced by Aesthetics? A Conjectural Poetics of Art History and Ecology.” With Yukio Lippit, he is co-editor of the volume /Re-Presenting Emptiness: Essays on Zen and Art /(Princeton Univeristy Press, 2009).

Ref: A09P0155