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The 70th A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Contact: Art and the Pull of Print, Part 1: Pressure

Jennifer L. Roberts, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University. In this six-part lecture series Contact: Art and the Pull of Print, Roberts focuses on printmaking as an art of physical contact, involving transfer under pressure between surfaces—a direct touch that can evoke multiple forms of intimacy. And yet it is simultaneously an art of estrangement: it requires the deferral, displacement, and distribution of artistic agency, and it trades in reversal and inversion. In this first lecture, “Pressure,” premiered on the National Gallery’s website on April 25, 2021, Roberts explores how a print is an image transferred, under pressure, between two surfaces in direct physical contact. Every print is the record of a contact event: pressure followed by release. This makes print an especially subtle medium for exploring alternative models of the sensory image and for working through the social continuum of touch, from intimacy to violence.