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Reverie: Christopher Wilmarth, Before and After Mallarmé — A Symposium

Christopher Wilmarth, Saint, 1979. Watercolor and graphite on layered off-white wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Nina Nielsen and John Baker, 2006.247.5.
© Estate of Christopher Wilmarth/Susan Wilmarth-Rabineau.


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

This event was recorded. Please view the symposium here.

In 1978, sculptor Christopher Wilmarth was asked by poet Frederick Morgan to recommend an illustrator for his translation of a group of seven poems by the French symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé. Wilmarth was so moved by the poetry that he offered to undertake the project himself. Wilmarth found a parallel to his own artistic sensibility in Mallarmé’s effort to purify language—to use it abstractly—so that it would not describe an object in any literal sense: “The essence of a work consists precisely in what is not expressed,” the poet wrote. Wilmarth remarked in turn: “Mallarmé’s work is about the anguish and longing of experience not fully realized, and I found something of myself in it.”

The symposium, which coincides with the opening of the exhibition Reverie: Christopher Wilmarth, Before and After Mallarmé (May 20–August 13, 2017), will focus on the life and work of Christopher Wilmarth, the influence of Mallarmé on his artistic choices, and the role of Mallarmé in the world of avant-garde art-making in the 20th century.

“Christopher Wilmarth: Finding a Place for Dreams”
Edward Saywell, Chief of Exhibitions Strategy and Gallery Displays, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“A Symptom of Space”
Steven Henry Madoff, Chair of the Master’s in Curatorial Practice Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York

“On the Impossibility of Translation and Illustration in Mallarmé”
Trevor Stark, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History, Columbia University

“Moving Mallarmé across Media”
Daniel Callahan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Music, Boston College

“The Hole Soul Summed Up”
Laura Kenner, Ph.D. Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

The symposium will take place in Deknatel Hall, Lower Level.

Free and open to the public.

The Harvard Art Museums presentation of Reverie: Christopher Wilmarth, Before and After Mallarmé honors the memory of Susan Wilmarth.

Support for the panel discussion is provided by the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, which was established through the generosity of the wife, children, and friends of the late M. Victor Leventritt, Harvard Class of 1935. The purpose of the fund is to present outstanding scholars of the history and theory of art to the Harvard and Greater Boston communities.

The exhibition and the associated online Special Collection received support from the Rosenblatt Fund for Post-War American Art. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.