Anthropologies of Art

April 25–26, 2003

This Clark Conference, convened by Mariët Westerman, brought together leading art historians and anthropologists to discuss the intersections and divergences between their disciplines. The issues addressed were relevant to the academic study of art as well as museum practices. How do anthropology and art history understand the term "art", and what sorts of questions do these disciplines ask of the work of art? Is it possible to find a cross-cultural definition of art, or are such definitions inevitably Western in their origins and concerns? What implications do the answers to these questions have for the collecting and display of Western and non-Western objects in art museums?

Participants included:
Hans Belting, Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe; Janet Catherine Berlo, University of Rochester; Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard University; Steve Bourget, University of Texas at Austin; Sarah Brett-Smith, Rutgers University; Shelly Errington, University of California, Santa Cruz; David Freedberg, Columbia University; Anna Grimshaw, Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester; Jonathan Hay, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU; Howard Morphy, Australian National University; Ikem Stanley Okoye, University of Delaware; Francesco Pellizzi, editor of Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics; Ruth Phillip, Univeristy of British Columbia

In order of discussion

Introduction - The Objects of Art History and Anthropology
Mariët Westermann


Pathos at Oraibi: What Warburg Did Not See
David Freedberg

Gombrich and Saussure among the Indigenes
Shelly Errington

Margins of Recorded History: Art and Aesthetics as a Meta-Anthropological Subject
Francesco Pellizzi

Image, Art, Anthropology

Toward an Anthropology of the Image
Hans Belting

The Impulse to Flee: Anthropology, Art History, and the Vexing Matter in/of Orbit
Ikem Stanley

Rethinking the Visual in ‘Visual Anthropology’
Anna Grimshaw

Object, Ritual, History

The Functions of Painting in China: Toward a Unified Field Theory
Jonathan Hay

Seeing Through Yolngu Art
Howard Morphy

Time, Fieldwork, and Writing a History of Bamana Mud Cloth
Sarah Brett-Smith

But Is It Art? The Complex Roles of Images in Moche Culture, an Ancient Andean Society of the Peruvian North Coast
Steve Bourget

Convergence and Difference

Africa and the Indigenous Americas: Anthropologies and Histories of Art
Janet Catherine Berlo

Conference Response
Ruth Phillip