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The Question of Skill

Charles Bird King, The Vanity of the Artist's Dream, 1830, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum.

Charles Bird King, The Vanity of the Artist's Dream, 1830, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum.

Saturday, March 2, 2013
2:00pm – 3:00pm

Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Question of Skill
Gallery Talk

Ethan Lasser, Margaret S. Winthrop Associate Curator of American Art, Division of European and American Art, Harvard Art Museums

To explore the concept of skill, this talk will focus on two very different objects in the Art Museums collection—Otto van Meurs’s long-case musical clock from 1750 and Charles Bird King’s 1830 painting The Vanity of the Artist’s Dream. In the periods when they worked, van Meurs and King were regarded as true masters of their craft. But their skill was not manifested in the same way. The clockmaker was celebrated for his dexterity and ability to precisely manipulate fine materials. King, on the other hand, was seen as a master of deception, a magician who could fool the viewer into the reading the painted object as real. This talk will use the clock and the painting as a springboard to enter into a broader conversation on the nature of the “well-crafted” object and the ever-shifting definition of skill.

Free with the price of admission.

Gallery talks are informal and include discussion. Limited to 25 participants; please arrive early.

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