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Art Matters

Art Matters is presented by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and is a premier lecture series intended for continuing adult education in the history of art. Our distinguished speakers come from the Santa Barbara area, as well as across the country, and occasionally, abroad. Art historians, curators, and conservators offer fascinating insights into their areas of specialization.

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Art Matters Lecture - Restoration/Revelation: The Conservation Treatment of the "Ghent Altarpiece" with Bart J.C. Devolder (via Zoom)

Thursday, August 5, 2021
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Bart J.C. Devolder
Chief Conservator, Princeton University of Art

The Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by Jan and Hubert van Eyck is one of the most iconic works of Western art as it embodies the birth of new skills and vision. The artwork in itself is often claimed to be the most stolen painting in history and in spite of its many voyages it is a miracle that until this day only one panel is missing.

Still housed in Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, the site for which it was created, The Ghent Altarpiece or Mystic Lamb has undergone conservation and restoration treatment by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels) since 2012. No one expected this restoration to turn into a revelation: the real Van Eyck had been hidden beneath overpaint for centuries! In his lecture, Bart Devolder shares remarkable discoveries from the first phase and second phase. 

This event is virtual via Zoom.

Ticket Cost:
Virtual Experience via Zoom: FREE

Art Matters Lecture - Ashes to Dust: American Art and the Dreadful Thirties with Justin Wolff (via Zoom)

Thursday, September 2, 2021
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Justin Wolff
Professor of Art History, University of Maine

We are currently in the throes of disaster: climate change, coronavirus, political violence, and more. We have experienced this before, of course, as the scariest thing about catastrophes is that they repeat themselves, manifesting as suffering and as culture. This talk examines artworks representing two catastrophes unfolding during the 1930s in the United States: one actual (the Dust Bowl), the other hypothetical (the end of the world). It features paintings, prints, and photographs by several artists, but focuses on Arthur Rothstein’s haunting Dust Bowl photographs of Texas and Oklahoma (taken in the spring of 1936) and Rockwell Kent’s fantastical “End of the World” lithographs (published in Life magazine in 1937). Rothstein’s iconic photographs depict an unprecedented ecological disaster and Kent’s prints illustrate four possible scenarios of cosmic doom—the moon crashing into the earth, for instance, and a sudden solar flare-up—proposed by Hayden Planetarium astronomers in New York.

Though very different artists, Rothstein and Kent produced images that were popular despite their appalling content. Their visualizations of apocalyptic events, which were published in scientific journals and popular periodicals, reflected the widespread existential fears about economic depression, agricultural disaster, and European fascism that characterized the 1930s. By interpreting the artworks and considering how they were distributed to the American public, this talk demonstrates the psychological and aesthetic processes that structured feelings of dread during the decade.

This event is virtual via Zoom.

Ticket Cost:
SBMA Member (Zoom) (Curators' Circle & above): FREE
SBMA Member (Zoom) (Enthusiast and below): $10.00
General Admission (Zoom): $15.00
Student (Zoom) (Valid student ID required): FREE

Art Matters Lecture - Enigmatic Architecture: R. M. Schindler's Los Angeles with Todd Cronan (in Person)

Thursday, October 7, 2021
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Todd Cronan
Associate Professor of Art History, Emory University 

Born and trained in Vienna, R. M. Schindler came to Los Angeles in 1920, working in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright. After leaving Wright's office, Schindler went on to become the most influential modern architect in Southern California. This talk explores his enigmatic approach as a designer, from his infamous bohemian mecca, the Kings Road House, to his last great "translucent" works, including the remarkable Janson and Tischler Houses. In many ways, Schindler's work remains a mystery, full of seemingly arbitrary shapes, patterns, and angles they seem to many like futuristic set designs for early Hollywood film. We will try and unravel some of the mysteries that surround this astonishing body of work.

This event is in person at Santa Barbara Museum of Art's Mary Craig Auditorium.

Ticket Cost:
SBMA Member (Curators' Circle & above): FREE
SBMA Member (Enthusiast and below): $10.00
General Admission: $15.00
Student (Valid student ID required): FREE

Art Matters Lecture - Power and Metals: Regalia of the Moche of Ancient Perú with Alicia Boswell (in Person)

Thursday, December 2, 2021
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Alicia Boswell
Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara

In the ancient Andes, metallurgical technology was driven by an ideological system that imbued metals with sacred properties. Unlike Old World societies, where metallurgical technology developed in response to the demand for utilitarian goods, in the ancient Andes, gold, silver, and copper alloys were used to create regalia worn by elites. These objects lended authority and power to those that wore them—in life and death. This lecture discusses the role of regalia in the Moche world, a society that thrived on what today is the north coast of Peru in the first millennium. 

This event is in person at Santa Barbara Museum of Art's Mary Craig Auditorium.

Ticket Cost:
SBMA Member (Curators' Circle & above): FREE
SBMA Member (Enthusiast and below): $10.00
General Admission: $15.00
Student (Valid student ID required): FREE