Discussions of the nature and value of art, of aesthetics, and of the identities and roles of artists are almost entirely absent from surviving ancient Egyptian texts; yet this apparent silence in the ancient discourse is broken by the surviving material and visual culture, which eloquently declares a profound concern for the significance of shape, form, and composition.
An essential approach to analyzing ancient Egyptian visual culture is through context. The Egyptians produced objects and monuments for specific purposes and places, to function in concert with other objects, monuments, spaces, and actions. By examining these materials together we may illuminate layers of meaning embedded in Egyptian images and objects.
In this conference we will investigate Egyptian art within four different types of context:
- Three-dimensional contexts: space, landscape, architecture
- Two-dimensional contexts: interiors and exteriors, object surfaces
- Form and message contexts: the relationship of writing and pictorial art
- The context of the Egyptian world of images: ideals, others, and the natural world
As an additional element of context, each session will incorporate one comparative paper from a field outside of ancient Egypt.