Vision and Material

The conference presentations are available and can be obtained via Inez Dua.

An international conference held at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts to celebrate VLAC’s double lustrum

VLAC (Vlaams Academisch Centrum) is an IAS (Institute for Advanced Study) of the KVAB (Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten)

The conference was organized by VLAC and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts in collaboration with:

KIK/IRPA (Koninklijk Instituut voor het Kunstpatrimonium, Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique, Belgium)

The Impact of Oil - a Dutch Joint Project of the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht and the Rijksmuseum supported by NWO, Netherlands

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece

Viewers in an Eyckian picture: three barely visible viewers (6mm in height) at the city gate in the city view of the Annunciation scene in the Ghent Altar-piece, looking at the divine light.

The conference has as its emblem three viewers hidden in the Ghent Altarpiece. This Van Eyck polyptych reflects recurrent interest in Eyckian paintings in several VLAC-projects, including collaborative pairings and cluster projects. Vision has been a favourite theme throughout. Jan van Eyck’s onlookers are reflected in the mirror of the Arnolfini Double Portrait (National Gallery London) but other Eyckian paintings contain them too, sometimes subtly hidden (as in the Bruges The Virgin and Child with Canon Van der Paele). The three observers in the back of the city scene of the Ghent Altarpiece have been the subject of much exploration at VLAC and symbolize the Eyckian fascination with vision complementary to his penetrating understanding of light’s interaction with material. From there our theme and title VISION AND MATERIAL.

Vision and Material

Programme brochure

Programme (en français, traduit par l'IRPA)

Programm (in Deutsch)

Wednesday, November 24

17h00: Formal opening VISION AND MATERIAL in auditorium Albert II with celebration speeches by
  Prof. Dominique Willems, voorzitter Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten
  Prof. Géry van Outryve d’Ydewalle, vast secretaris Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten
  Minister Ingrid Lieten, Viceminister-president, Vlaams Minister van Innovatie
  Prof. Wim Blockmans, ere-Rector Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, President NetIAS (European Network of Institutes for Advanced Study)
18h00: Marc De Mey (Director VLAC): Introduction to the theme of the conference: VLAC and Current Issues in Eyckian Optics
  Maximiliaan Martens (UGent): Members of the Belgian Royal Academies and the Study of the Ghent Altarpiece
19h00: Reception/Walking dinner

Thursday, November 25

9h00: Opening & Practical Announcements
9h30: Klaus Bergdolt (Univ. Köln): Ghiberti’s Third Comments
10h15: Kamal Kolo (VUB): Alhazen Optics from Arab Sources
10h35: Cyriel Stroo (KIK): Broederlam’s World of Surface Appearances: Traditional and Innovative Aspects
10h55: Coffee
11h15: Dominique Deneffe (KIK): Painting Techniques and Human Representation in Pre-Eyckian Art
11h35: Bart Fransen (KIK): The Making of Portraits before Jan van Eyck: the Case of Wencelas of Luxembourg
11h55: Ingrid Geelen (KIK): Applied Reliefs in the Ghent Altarpiece
12h15: Lunch
14h15: Inigo Bocken (Univ. Nijmegen) & Barbara Baert (KULeuven): The Viewers in the Ghent Altarpiece
15h00: Harald Schwaetzer (Alanus Hochsch.): Rogier’s St.Luke painting the Virgin and Cusanus’ Epistemology
15h20: Wolfgang Schneider (Univ. Hildesheim): Reflektion als Gegenstand des Sehens im Genter Altar
15h40: Rocco Sinisgalli (Univ. Rome): The Ancient Origins of 15th Century Perspective
16h00: Coffee
16h40: Till Borchert (Groeninge Brugge): Jan van Eyck’s Portraits and the Ghent Altarpiece
17h00: Boris Uspensky (L’Orientale Napoli): The Composition of the Ghent Altarpiece (Divine and Human Perspective)
19h00: Conference dinner

Friday, November 26

9h30: Jo Kirby (Nat. Gallery London): Aspects of Oil – Painting in Northern Europe and Jan van Eyck
10h15: Arie Wallert (Rijksmuseum A’dam) & Esther van Duijn (Impact Oil): Pre and Post-Eyckian Gold
10h35: Marc Clarke (Univ. A’dam) & Abbie Vandivere (Impact Oil): Shot Fabric, Recipes and Practice
10h55: Coffee
11h15: Jan Piet Filedt Kok (Univ. A’dam): St.Luke and Workshop Practice
11h35: Jeroen Stumpel (Univ. Utrecht): Alberti meets Van Eyck
11h55: Michael Kubovy (Univ. Virginia): The Uses of Perspective and the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
12h15: Lunch
14h15: Alan Gilchrist (Rutgers Univ.): Perception of Reflected Light: A Story of black and white
15h00: Jan Koenderink (Univ. Delft): Observation, Concept and Expression in Jan van Eyck’s Rendering of Space, Light and Material
15h20: Ingrid Daubechies (Univ. Princeton): Mathematical Methods for the Study of the Ghent Altarpiece
15h40: Elisabeth Bruyns & Hélène Verougstraete (UCL): The Frames of the Ghent Altarpiece
16h00: Coffee
16h40: Anne van Grevenstein (Univ. Amsterdam) & Ron Spronk (Queens Univ.): The Current State of the Ghent Altarpiece
17h00: Hugo van der Velden (Harvard Univ.): The Genesis of the Ghent Altarpiece
17h45: Reception

Obviously, VLAC has housed a great variety of interdisciplinary endeavours involving fields as far apart as humour and flight dynamics to transitional justice and comparative grammar to medical imaging and nineteenth century journalism. Although our celebration in the Palace of the Academies focuses on 15th century painting, here in Brussels and elsewhere former fellows have organized satellite meetings at which they revive and reactivate the inspiring and productive period spent at our centre.

A number of satellite events are organised:

Visual perception and visual arts

Programme brochure

Vision in Art and Optics from Cusanus to Descartes

Programme brochure

Material Resources for Early Modern Court History Art, Text and Space

Programme brochure