Conference – Rethinking Albert Moore (2017)

King’s Manor, University of York, the Yorkshire Museum and York Art Gallery, 13-14 July 2017

Rethinking Albert Moore’ was a two-day conference held on 13-14 July 2017. It was organised by the Department of History of Art at the University of York in collaboration with York Art Gallery and Museum De Buitenplaats to coincide with the international exhibition Albert Moore: Of Beauty and Aesthetics.

Best-known today as a painter of uncompromisingly ‘narrative-less’ pictures, Albert Moore’s distinctive pictorial practices facilitated productive alliances with some of the most progressive European painters, designers and architects of his age. Framed consistently as an ‘outsider’ to the London art world, Moore was in fact at the epicentre of artistic negotiations over the politics and principles of Aestheticism and the formulation of the beautiful as an inherently radical art practice. Yet despite his substantial contribution to nineteenth-century visual culture – not to mention his persistent afterlife through photographic reproduction – Moore has often been characterised as a marginal or isolated figure whose interests in ornament, atemporality and materiality place him outside mainstream narratives of British nineteenth-century art history.

Working in tandem with York City Art Gallery’s first monographic exhibition of the York born artist since his death in 1893, this conference sought to refocus debates around Albert Moore, his work as well as his social and professional networks. Its intention was to re-interrogate Moore’s frequent association with Aestheticism in the visual arts; to explore other, less well-known historical contexts for his practice; to review his critical presentation as an outsider alienated from the institutional structures of the metropolis; and, more generally, to consider what new methodological approaches might be necessary to ‘make sense of Moore’.

The conference was divided into three sections: a Scholars' Workshop; a public keynote lecture, also one of the Albert Moore lecture series; and the main conference itself. For further details, see the conference website.

Rethinking Albert Moore - conference poster

Conference poster showing 'A Venus' by Albert Moore, oil on canvas, 1869, York Art Gallery

Scholars' Workshop (Vanbrugh, University of York)

The Scholars' Workshop on Thursday 13 July brought together the conference speakers, PhD students and other interested parties. The first part of the afternoon was devoted to reassessing the title given to a Moore painting in Chrisotpher Grindley's private collection; the second part broadened the field of discussion to consider the current state of British Art studies: read further details on the Rethinking Albert Moore blog.

Rethinking Albert Moore conference - scholars' workshop - University of York

Scholars' Workshop, Rethinking Albert Moore

Keynote Lecture (Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum)

Professor Tim Barringer (Paul Mellon Professor of History of Art, Yale University and Honorary Visiting Professor, University of York) gave the first keynote paper of the conference at a public ticketed event: 'Aspiring to the Condition of Music: Albert Moore and Synaesthesia' was part of the 'Albert Moore Lectures' hosted by the York Museums Trust at the Yorkshire Museum.

Albert Joseph Moore, A Musician (c.1867), oil on canvas, Yale, public domain

Albert Joseph Moore, A Musician (c.1867), oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund; image public domain

Conference (King's Manor, University of York and York Art Gallery)

Professor Liz Prettejohn (University of York), co-convener of the conference and co-curator of the Albert Moore exhibition, gave the Welcome on Friday 14 July. The conference was divided under three headings, ‘Exhibiting Moore’, ‘Moore’s Design: Science and Industry’ and ‘Moore’s Legacies’. in addition, a ‘Special Session: The Mystery of the Title’ offered the opportunity to examine a work by Moore from Christopher Gridley’s private collection.  The conference moved to the Art Gallery mid-afternoon, for a panel session chaired by Professor Jason Edwards (University of York), an opportunity also to visit the exhibition with the curators, before re-convening at King's Manor for the final session of the conference: the keynote presentation by Dr. Robyn Asleson (Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery) on 'Modern Translations from the Greek: Albert Moore and the Classical Ideal'. 

The other speakers were:

Exhibiting Moore

  • Richard Green (Former York Art Gallery curator): 'Cecil French and the Beginnings of an Albert Moore Collection at York'
  • Patty Wageman (Museum de Buitenplaats): 'The Staging of ‘Of Beauty and Aesthetics’ at the Museum de Buitenplaats'
  • Samantha Timm (University of York): 'Curating the 19th Century: Competing and Concurrent Narratives of the Moore family and Others at the York Art Gallery'

Moore’s Design: Science and Industry

  • Simon Spier (University of Leeds/Bowes Museum): 'Albert Moore and the York School of Design'
  • Laurence Shafe (Independent Scholar): 'Albert Moore and the Science of Beauty'
  • Nicholas Shaddick (University of York): '"Seriously the kind of work I am about": Ornament and Intertextuality in Moore’s Pomegranates.'

Moore’s Legacies

  • Helena Gaudekova and Mariko Hirabayashi (University of York): 'Moore, Whistler and Japanese Traditional Aesthetics'
  • Glenda Youde (University of York): 'Geometry and Aesthetic Balance in A Garden'
  • Estée O’Connor (University of York): 'Moore’s Lost Poetry: An Analysis of Three Works'

The Panel Session at York Art Gallery featured papers on a range of paintings in the exhibition by Samantha Niederman (University of York), Emma Merkling (Courtauld Institute of Art), and Melissa Gustin (University of York).

Rethinking Albert Moore: History of Art, University of York conference, 07/2017

Rethinking Albert Moore: History of Art, University of York conference, 07/2017

Rethinking Albert Moore: History of Art, University of York conference, 07/2017

Rethinking Albert Moore: History of Art, University of York conference, 07/2017

Main image: Albert Joseph Moore, Beads (study) or Two Women on a Sofa, 1875 (detail), c. 1875, oil on canvas.Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, image public domain (collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1671026)

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