The 2012 issue of Practitioners’ Voices in Classical Reception Studies focuses on practitioners working with visual and material culture. The classical past continues to be a rich source of inspiration for artists working all over the world, and it is within the field of the visual arts that we find some of the most impassioned debates about the role of antiquity in contemporary culture. University academics are also becoming increasingly interested in how modern artists have re-worked classical ideas, texts and images, and the last year has seen the publication of a number of books and articles on the topic. All of this suggests that the relationship between contemporary art and classical culture deserves a moment of special scrutiny, and that an exploration of this theme might be of interest not just to students of classical reception, but to all those academics, critics and creative artists engaged in debates about contemporary art’s entanglement with the past.
The five interviews included in this issue were recorded between February 2011 and April 2012. As even the brief summaries below intimate, each of the practitioners who have contributed to the issue engages with different aspects of Greek and/or Roman antiquity, using different materials and techniques, while drawing on different literary and visual sources. Taken together, their work demonstrates the enormous range and depth of classical references in contemporary visual and material culture - references which enable even the most progressive and innovative of artworks to ‘thunder back through the ages’ (to borrow Craig Hamilton’s evocative phrase).
Thanks are due to all the practitioners who contributed interviews and generously allowed us to reproduce images of their work, and to Trish Cashen for technical and creative help.
Jessica Hughes, October 2012
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Readers of this issue may be interested in exploring
- The Open Arts Archive, a major website and archive hosted by the Art History Department at the Open University, which provides open access to a wealth of artistic, cultural and educational resources, featuring work from the ancient to the modern period.
- Minus Plato: Classics and Modern/Contemporary Art, a blog about the interactions between Classical Studies and Contemporary Art authored by Richard Fletcher (Department of Classics, Ohio State University)
This page's image banner shows (from left to right) works by Richard Shirley Smith, Christie Brown, Craig Hamilton and Marian Maguire.