LECTURE 1 2019 Christopher Allen: The Perennial Search for Words

Dates & times

Sun 3 March 2019, 3.00pm–4.00pm


ANU School of Art and Design Lecture Theatre

Image: Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man, c. 1490. Pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper. 34.6 cm Ă— 25.5 cm.


Languages of ART

Foundation texts in in western art history and criticism.

This year’s Lecture Series focuses on the written word. It revisits “foundational texts” relating to the visual arts. Some of these texts provided key terms which have supplied the criteria of appreciation and criticism over many centuries. Others proposed cognitive frameworks which became the ground-rules of scholarship and helped create the institutions we know today. Yet others record individual writers’ responses to the provocative novelty of the art of their day.


Christopher Allen
The Perennial Search for Words: Aesthetics, Art Criticism and Commentary since antiquity

This introduction considers the elementary terminology and descriptive language pertaining to art in ancient times. It also highlights the enduring ideas which have prevailed since antiquity. Christopher Allen is art critic for The Australian and Senior Master in Academic Extension at Sydney Grammar School.

In 1932 the Swiss publisher Albert Skira brought out a luxury edition of Mallarmé’s poems illustrated by Henri Matisse. Some commentators consider this sumptuous publication a turning point in Matisse’s career, “re-entering the ring of high modernism”. The rapport between visual artists and Mallarmé, the most esoteric of nineteenth-century French poets, is the subject of this lecture.

The affinity that Matisse felt with the daring liberties of Mallarmé’s verse and the spirit of negation lying behind it granted a new lease of life to Matisse’s glorious late work.

ALL LECTURES are held at the ANU School of Art and Design Lecture Theatre 

Level 1 Childers Street entrance – at 3pm

TICKETS AT THE DOOR $10 / $5  (student) FRIENDS of the Gallery FREE.


Updated:  17 May 2019/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery