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March 28, 2007

Swann Fellow to Lecture on William Hogarth and the Art of Gesture April 10

Swann Foundation Fellow Hope Saska will explore the connection between the popular graphic satire of William Hogarth, whose art presented amusing yet cautionary tales of human behavior, and the staging of theatrical productions in the 18th century, in a lecture at the Library of Congress on April 10.

Saska will present the lecture, titled "Of Attitude and Action: William Hogarth and the Art of Gesture," at noon on Tuesday, April 10, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Saska’s illustrated presentation is based on research conducted at the Library of Congress during her fellowship awarded by the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. The Library administers the Swann Foundation. The lecture, sponsored by the foundation and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

Hogarth (1697-1764), the versatile English painter and satirist often called "the father of English caricature," became well known for his paintings of "modern moral subjects," also published as print series. At a time when actors were urged to study the fine arts  particularly paintings of historical subjects and ancient sculpture  for samples of gesture and expression to enliven the characters they portrayed on stage, Hogarth turned to theatrical metaphor to describe his two-dimensional "performances" on canvas and the engraved page.

In her lecture, Saska will argue that the practices in staging a theatrical production are analogous to the artistic process of creating two-dimensional scenes in visual art. As such, the motions the artist makes with his hand and arm to draw on the page or to inscribe a copper plate are synonymous with the gestures a performer makes in front of an audience.

Investigating Hogarth’s analogy between theatrical performance and art making, Saska’s lecture will focus on key passages of Hogarth’s 1753 treatise, "The Analysis of Beauty," and on his engravings, especially the second illustrative plate to the text, often referred to as "The Country Dance." She will argue that Hogarth’s theatric metaphor allowed artists, especially those working with graphic media, to envision their processes of art-making as a new category of performance.

Saska is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, where she also completed her master’s degree in the field. Her dissertation, titled "Staging the Page: Graphic Satire in Eighteenth Century England," examines shared aspects of theatrical performance and graphic satire and caricature in 18th century London.

In addition to being one of three Swann Fellows for 2006-2007, Saska is a curatorial assistant at the David Winton Bell Gallery in the List Art Center of Brown University.

This presentation is part of the Swann Foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The foundation customarily awards one fellowship annually (with a stipend of $15,000) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. More information about the fellowship is available through the Swann Foundation’s Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/ or by e-mailing swann@loc.gov.

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PR 07-064
03/28/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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