February 15 - April 1, 2012

Holding the Eyes and Soul: Object and Viewer in 2012


During the late medieval and early modern periods, what one saw was only part of the picture. The mechanics and philosophy of seeing and comprehending the visual were at the very core of experience in cultures shaped by what scholars have called their “ocularcentrism,” or eye-centeredness.

In this exhibition, curated by Michelle Ermatinger-Salas, UC 2012, we are invited to view pieces from the Berman Museum’s permanent collections through the lenses of early modern viewing theories and practices. The teachings of the notable Renaissance art theorist Alberti guide our viewing of a work by contemporary Philadelphia-based artist Cliff Lamoree. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century portraits address us as “speaking likenesses” who still reach out to current viewers from centuries past.

Other works selected represent the breadth of genres and chronological periods in the Berman’s collections to exemplify the kinds of object/viewer transactions that characterized early modern understandings of those relationships. Interactive areas of the exhibition will demonstrate the persistence to this day of early modern viewing strategies that ensure our engagement as late modern (and postmodern) viewers.

This exhibition is funded in part by James and Cheryl Beadle Marple ’70, and is also funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Epps Advertising.


All Berman exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public