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The Bird Catchers / François Boucher
Thomas Crow

Friday, January 24, 2003
7:30 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium

François Boucher possesses the paradoxical distinction of standing for an entire epoch in art history—the French Rococo—while remaining underestimated as an artist and almost unknown as a personality. Often he appears as little more than a vehicle for the impulses of his patrons or for the relaxed, decadent ethos of his time.

Yet Boucher, this art-historical enigma, operated across some of the most significant changes ever to take place in the institutional, ideological, and economic underpinnings of European art, all the while maintaining his professional dominance and representative stature. This lecture will address some of the reasons for Boucher's soft-focus historical identity as well as some of the reasons why his work has recently attracted renewed interest to the point of genuine controversy in its interpretation.

Thomas Crow is director of the Getty Research Institute and professor of art history at the University of Southern California. He was previously Robert Lehman Professor of Art History at Yale University and chair of history of art at the University of Sussex in the UK. His first book, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris, appeared in 1985 and won a number of awards. He has since published on French painting of the Revolutionary period (Emulation, 1995) and on the art of the later twentieth century (The Rise of the Sixties, 1996, and Modern Art in the Common Culture, 1996). His latest book, The Intelligence of Art, addresses the critical and historical understanding of art objects. A contributing editor of Artforum, he writes frequently on contemporary art and cultural issues.