40th Annual Cleveland Symposium

Facing the Unknown:
Anonymity in the History of Art

Friday, October 24, 2014
Recital Hall, Cleveland Museum of Art

Call for Papers:

Facing the Unknown: Anonymity in the History of Art seeks papers which address the theme of anonymity or the unknown in the visual arts. The obscurity of an artist, subject, function, or context may be a byproduct of the passage of time, of traditional cultural practices, or a conscious decision on the part of the maker. This symposium aims to explore the ways in which an anonymous aspect of a work may influence its interpretation, function, classification, or perceived value throughout the object’s history.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Anonymous artists or makers
  • Images of unknown subjects or for unknown patrons
  • Objects with undetermined function or context
  • Works of questionable authenticity, attribution, dating, or provenance
  • Objects with elements that have been deliberately effaced, obscured, or omitted 
  • Lost works of art
  • Previously unknown, unstudied, or unpublished artists or artworks
  • Intentional use of anonymity, including works that mask or conceal identity

Doctoral and master’s degree students in art history and related disciplines are invited to submit a 250-word abstract and C.V. to clevelandsymposium@gmail.com by June 15, 2014. Applicants will receive notification of their status via email by August 1, 2014.

The 40th Annual Cleveland Symposium will be held in conjunction with the Symposium in Honor of Ellen G. Landau, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emerita in the Humanities, to take place on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art: Cleveland. The keynote speaker for both events is Dr. Joan Marter, Board of Governors Professor of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Rutgers University, who will speak after the conclusion of the program on Friday October 24.

Above: (Detail) Studio of Rembrandt van Rijn, A Bearded Man Wearing a Hat, c. 1655-1660, oil on canvas, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1950.252, Cleveland Museum of Art.