Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WC Art Professor Examines Whistler's Gold Scab, November 29

Chestertown, MD, November 21, 2006 — Washington College's Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series presents Professor Aileen Tsui, Assistant Professor of Art History, speaking on "The Peacock's Gold Scabs: Aestheticism and Commercial Contagion in Whistler's Art," Wednesday, November 29, at 4:30 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum. The talk is free, and tea will be served at 4 p.m.

The talk will explore the entanglement of two seemingly opposed tendencies in the works of the expatriate American artist James McNeill Whistler: a commitment to aesthetic purity and autonomy, on the one hand, and a strategic play with publicity and the art market, on the other. Professor Tsui will discuss Whistler's manipulation of competing aesthetic and commercial imperatives in both his rhetoric and his art, including the famous painting known today as "Whistler's Mother." Special attention will be given to "The Gold Scab" (1879), a painting in which the artist's ambivalence to the commodification of art, ordinarily expressed through nuanced irony or witty wordplay, explodes into a strange visual hybrid of caricature and portrait.

Professor Tsui is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Washington College, where she teaches classes on European and American art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. She is currently researching connections between nineteenth-century Japonisme and commodity culture for her study of the elements of East Asian exoticism in Whistler's art.

The Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series showcases the research, writing and talent of Washington College's faculty and is sponsored by the Rose O'Neil Literary House. Established in 1985, the Literary House was acquired and refurbished through a generous gift of alumna Betty Casey, Class of 1947, and her late husband Eugene, and named in memory of his late mother, Rose O'Neill Casey. Now in its 21st year, the O'Neill Literary House reflects the eclectic spirit of Washington College's creative writing and academic culture.

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