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The 70th A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Contact: Art and the Pull of Print, Part 6: Alienation

Jennifer L. Roberts, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University. In this six-part lecture series titled Contact: Art and the Pull of Print, Roberts will focus 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 sixth and final lecture, “Alienation,” premiered on the National Gallery’s website on May 30, 2021, Roberts explores the intricate and often counterintuitive effort of creating matrices for printing (woodblocks, copperplates, etc.) has been a form of invisible labor for centuries. How do we think about the relationship between the time and skill put into the matric and the value of the image in generates? (Or: where does all the time go?) This final lecture investigates the misregistration of time in print, especially in terms of the conflicts—and convergences—between slow and fast media that are frequently staged in contemporary printmaking.