British Association for American Studies


Program of the “Crash and Burn: Destruction in American Art” symposium, the Courtauld Institute, London, June 5-6

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Program of the “Crash and Burn: Destruction in American Art” symposium, the Courtauld Institute, London, June 5-6

June 5, 2015 @ 1:30 pm - June 6, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

Crash and Burn: Destruction in American Art


Friday 5 June 2015, 13.30 – 19.00 (with registration from 13.00)

Saturday 6 June 2015, 10.30 – 17.30 (with registration from 10.00)

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Speaker(s): Keynote: Wendy Bellion (University of Delaware). Other speakers: Maggie Cao (Columbia University), Andrianna Campbell (CUNY), Amanda Douberley (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Jason E. Hill (New-York Historical Society), Liz Kim (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Lauren Kroiz (University of California, Berkeley), Joshua Lubin-Levy (NYU), Jody Patterson (Plymouth University), David Peters Corbett (University of East Anglia), Oliver Shultz (Stanford University), Catherine Spencer (University of St Andrews), Taylor Walsh (Harvard University), Andrew Witt (University College London), Tatsiana Zhurauliova (University of Chicago)
Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission, but advance booking is required by 12 noon on 4 June BOOK ONLINE Please contact researchforum@courtauld.ac.uk if you have any queries.
Organised by: Hélène Valance (Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Alex J. Taylor (Terra Foundation Research Fellow in American Art, Tate)

Destruction has long occupied a central position in the construction of an American national image. From Cotton Mather’s description of Boston as ‘the City of Destruction’ to the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, the sheer visual force of destruction has repeatedly left an indelible mark on the collective psyche. As historians such as Richard Slotkin and Kevin Rozario have demonstrated, violent and destructive episodes have been inextricably linked with the apparently opposing forces of creation and regeneration so central to American self-imaging. This symposium will elaborate on such historical accounts to examine how the idea of destruction has shaped and been shaped by American art and visual culture.

The symposium will attempt to establish a genealogy for the destructive impulse as it was specifically activated in American art, charting its evolution from the colonial era to the present. How do American artists reconcile destruction with their own processes of creation? What motivated artists to incorporate destruction into their art, and how have these contextual meanings changed over time? The symposium will interrogate destruction as a theme addressed by artists through their work, but also consider those external forces that have seen the artwork itself subjected to the forces of destruction. Papers will consider works of art of all mediums and periods, as well as a wider range of visual and material culture.


June 5, 2015 @ 1:30 pm
June 6, 2015 @ 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Hélène Valance and Alex J. Taylor


The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House, Strand
London, WC2R 0RN United Kingdom
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