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Art History & Visual Material Culture webinar - AARON HYMAN (John Hopkins University, Baltimore): "Crossing the Line: Cristóbal de Villalpando and the Surplus of Script"

When:Th 11-03-2021 17:15 - 18:30

Dr. Aaron Hyman, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
‘Crossing the Line: Cristóbal de Villalpando and the Surplus of Script’


In 1706 Cristóbal de Villalpando, New Spain’s most famous artist, signed a painting with unusual and intensive calligraphic flourish and sent it from Mexico City far to the north. This talk attempts to make sense of Villalpando’s decision to invest so much pictorial energy in the forms of letters against this geographic backdrop. Doing so reveals a local social matrix where writing had taken on particular professional charge and, in addition, a broader artistic sensitivity to writing—its material instantiations and visual forms—that was inculcated by the Spanish Empire’s extensive bureaucracy of paper. In turn, an additional register was opened in which artists could make meaning—a register that Villalpando pushed to its maximal potential, often to heighten the subjects and iconographic content of his pictures. This talk thus stakes a methodological claim: that art historians might more readily consider the visuality of early modern and, indeed, the archive’s potential as a place just as important for looking as for reading and transcription.

About the speaker

Aaron M. Hyman (PhD UC Berkeley; MA Yale University) is assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University and currently the Marilynn Thoma Post-Doctoral Fellow. He works on early modern art in a global frame, with particular focus on northern Europe and colonial Latin America. His first book, Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America is forthcoming (August 2021) from the Getty Research Institute. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Belgian American Educational Foundation.