In this talk, Nicola Suthor will discuss the long-standing literary tradition of a controversial artistic performance first demonstrated in ancient Greece and consisting of drawing a form or figure by means of a single continuous line. From the beginning, this legendary feat has been understood as a virtuous demonstration of manual dexterity and artifice; it also elicited a number of critical reactions in the 16th and 17th century that in turn led to alternative written versions of the same legend. Secondly, it will look at extant drawings from the 17th century that demonstrate this feat and connect them to contemporary sketch techniques that likewise operate with an undulant line.
Nicola Suthor is Professor of Art History at Yale University. Before coming to Yale in 2015, she taught art history at the universities of Berlin (2012-14), Bern (2007-09), Hamburg (2011), Heidelberg (2009-11), and Stanford (2006). In 2011, she was visiting member of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton. In 2012, she received the Jacob Burckhardt Prize of the Max Planck Institute in Florence. Her research is an effort to understand how thinking about art comes to grips with thinking in art. In conjunction with an analysis of an array of painting practices, she has carried out a series of critical readings in the art-writing of the 17th and 18th centuries, a literature that shows an astounding—and to a certain extent forgotten—sensitivity for painterly phenomena. She has published her first book on Titian's painterly style ("Augenlust bei Tizian. Zur Konzeption sensueller Malerei in der Frühen Neuzeit, Munich 2004) and her second on virtuosity and boldness in Early Modern European Painting (Bravura: Virtuosität und Mutwilligkeit in der Malerei der Frühen Neuzeit, Fink: Munich 2010). The English translation of her study on Rembrandt's rough style (Rembrandts Rauheit, Fink: Munich 2014) will appear with Princeton University Press in January 2018.