The 300th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  March 9, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

Video of this event.

Kathryn Desplanque on Art-world satire in print during 18th and 19th centuries.

Our ideological investment in a narrative that aligns the story of modern art with the story of the artist’s liberation has a dark underbelly. Whom or what does this narrative serve and what does it obscure? Is not the visual artist liberated also another way of molding artistic work to the ethos of competitive individualism?

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries artists demonstrated a nuanced awareness of these transitions, and criticized their impact on the artist, art object, and the art world prolifically and vociferously. But their protests have escaped our notice, having been conducted in a medium marginalized or overlooked in the field of art history: the satirical image. This talk surveys the genre of art-world graphic satire—a corpus of 530 images that satirize Paris’ art-world and range from eighteenth-century loose-leaf etchings and engravings, to Revolutionary and early nineteenth-century satirical image albums in etching and lithography, to the lithographic satirical periodical press established around 1830.

Art-world satire’s protagonist is the starving or inglorious artist, which served as a vehicle to visibilize invisible structural changes in Paris’ art world. Through the inglorious artist and other figures, art-world satire explores the shift in the status of the artist, the organization of the art world from a corporate model to a free market, the emergence of a bourgeois market for art, and the unresolved debate on art’s status as a mechanical or liberal art.

Kathryn Desplanque, PhD, is an art historian, artist, and activist. She is a specialist in 18th and 19th European visual culture currently on a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Carleton University (Ottawa, ON), and will take up a position as Assistant Professor of 18th and 19th century European Art at UNC Chapel Hill in 2021. Kathryn approaches visual culture studies through the lens of material culture studies and the sociology of art to examine the tensions and contradictions elicited by financial capitalism’s impact on the art world. Her scholarship can be found in Eighteenth-Century Studies, The Mediatization of the Artist, and RACAR: Canadian Art Review. Kathryn is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for Ottawa’s Digital Arts Resource Centre and on the Research Advisory Board to the qualitative data analysis company, QSR International.

Published by Basset. Early 19th century. Le Grand Diable Mammon d’Argent. Etching and engraving. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.