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Lecture: Michael Leja on Art for Skeptical Viewers, 1870 to Present

September 10, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Organizer: Barnes Foundation

Where: Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130 United States

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In the later 19th century, the rampant deceptions and disorienting uncertainties of modern life presented challenging tests of visual acuity and credulity. Skeptical and wary forms of seeing became normalized in these circumstances, and art and visual culture were integral to them. This presentation will explore examples of art—past and present—that engage the cultural pressure to see skeptically, which has only increased in the era of deepfakes, conspiracy theories, and artificial intelligence. Skeptical seeing is essential for survival, but it can also lead viewers astray.

Michael Leja is James and Nan Wagner Farquhar Professor of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Looking Askance: Skepticism and American Art from Eakins to Duchamp, winner of the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize in 2005, and co-author with John Davis of Art of the United States, 1750 to 2000: Primary Sources (2020).

On-site, $10; online, $8; members and students free. Registration is required. More information can be found here.

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