CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Re-reading Rembrandt

symposium: 2 December 2006


Aula, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Singel 411
(Tram stop: Spui),
Free entrance, all welcome!

Information from the organizers

Speakers include Mieke Bal, Harry Berger, Jr. and Griselda Pollock.
Organised by Itay Sapir.

2006, the year of Rembrandt’s 400th birthday, was declared Rembrandtjaar (Rembrandt year) in the Netherlands and is being celebrated elsewhere in the world of art history and museology. It seems, however, that a real contemporary approach, one that crosses disciplinary boundaries and that sees this year as an opportunity to analyse Rembrandt’s art as a cultural object, has been so far singularly neglected. Indeed, the celebrations seem concentrated on questions of attribution – i.e. the exact delimitation of the “real” Rembrandt corpus – and of anecdotal biography – that is, the “life and works” all-too-familiar schema recounting who the dear son of Holland’s Golden Age actually was.

ASCA, as an institute devoted to the study of culture in a contemporary context, and to the constant questioning of accepted ideas, is organising a one-day conference to coincide with the end of the Rembrandtjaar. In it, we propose to consider Rembrandt as both a historical figure and as a general name for a group of artefacts with which our own time is yet to come to terms. We welcome proposals that will challenge, among others, ideas of authenticity, of homogeneous cultural context, of the Dutch 17th century as an undisputed “Golden Age”, and of Rembrandt’s paintings as vehicles of coherent, transparent narrativity. Contributions may come from specialists of art history and theory, but also from any discipline for which reconsidering Rembrandt can be of relevance.

The conference coincides with the 15th anniversary, and the long-awaited reprinting, of Mieke Bal’s groundbreaking Reading Rembrandt. We wish therefore, to include in some of the presentations a reconsideration of this work, and a continuation of the interaction it initiated between art history, narratology, psychoanalysis, gender studies, semiotics and other fields of study. Rembrandt’s corpus of works being as rich and vast as it is, “Reading Rembrandt” is a never-ending process, and we would like to engage in another re-reading from the vantage point of 2006.

Conference announcement and complete program