Alina Payne

Young Bauhaus Research Colloquium




Alina Payne

Alexander P. Misheff Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Paul E. Geier Director of Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies

Alina Payne is Alexander P. Misheff Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University and Paul E. Geier Director of Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. She was trained as an architect (BArch, McGill University) and received MA and PhD degrees in art/architecture history (University of Toronto). She is the author ofThe Architectural Treatise in the Italian Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 1999; Hitchcock Prize, 2000), Rudolf Wittkower (Bollati Boringhieri editore, 2011), From Ornament to Object. Genealogies of Architectural Modernism (Yale University Press, 2012), The Telescope and the Compass. Teofilo Gallaccini and the Dialogue between Architecture and Science in the Age of Galileo (Leo Olschki, 2012); editor of Displacements. Architecture and the Other Side of the Known (AI, 2000), Teofilo Gallaccini. Writings and Library(Olschki, 2012) and Dalmatia and the Mediterranean. Portable Archaeology and the Poetics of Influence (Brill, 2014) and co-editor of Antiquity and Its Interpreters (CUP, 2000). She is currently researching her next book on Renaissance architecture and the intersection between the arts on the terrain of materiality which will be the subject of her lectures as Chaire du Louvre in Paris (fall 2016). Most recent edited volumes are Vision and Its Instruments (Penn State Press, winter 2014/2015), The Renaissance in the 19th century (forthcoming; with L. Bolzoni; I Tatti and Harvard University Press) and Ornament. Between Local and Global (forthcoming; with G. Necipoglu, Princeton University Press). She has published numerous articles on Renaissance and modern architecture, on historiography and artistic theory. She was awarded the Max Planck and Alexander von Humboldt Prize in the Humanities (2006).

The Ubiquity of Objects: From Semper to the Bauhaus and Beyond.

Materiality/immateriality, agency, the archive, big data and migration may seem like today’s issues, yet, like the Bauhaus, they too have a genealogy. And how each generation discovers its issues is never entirely removed from a past with which it has a palimpsest relationship. In this sense Gottfried Semper activated many paths that artists and architects later travelled. The excess of objects at the great exhibitions he witnessed invited thinking about and organizing big data; the circulation of objects dramatically first felt there raised the issue of traces of their passage; materiality emerged as a nerve-ending of art-making just as materials entered the threatening if expansive world of industrialization; and framing objects (be it in museum vitrines or photographic atlases) became an urgent cultural and political act. In all these areas Semper offered commentary, departure points and insight that marked decisively the thinking about architecture for the next generations, from the immediate responses in reconceiving the relationship between architecture and objects (as its indexing agents) in the 19th century Gewerbeschule to the Bauhaus and beyond. If the best art theory comes from history (Schlegel, 1812), what might a look at Semper from the perspective of the Bauhaus teach us about problems that lie latent in our current architecture culture?