In 1978, sculptor Christopher Wilmarth was asked by poet Frederick Morgan to recommend an illustrator for his translation of a group of seven poems by the French symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé. Wilmarth was so moved by the poetry that he offered to undertake the project himself. Wilmarth found a parallel to his own artistic sensibility in Mallarmé’s effort to purify language—to use it abstractly—so that it would not describe an object in any literal sense: “The essence of a work consists precisely in what is not expressed,” the poet wrote. Wilmarth remarked in turn: “Mallarmé’s work is about the anguish and longing of experience not fully realized, and I found something of myself in it.”
The symposium, which coincides with the opening of the exhibition Reverie: Christopher Wilmarth, Before and After Mallarmé (May 20–August 13, 2017), will focus on the life and work of Christopher Wilmarth, the influence of Mallarmé on his artistic choices, and the role of Mallarmé in the world of avant-garde art-making in the 20th century.
Steven Henry Madoff, Chair, M.A. Curatorial Practice, School of Visual Arts, New York; Curator; Art Critic; Poet
Edward Saywell, Director of Exhibitions Strategy and Gallery Displays, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Laura Kenner, Graduate Student, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Trevor Stark, Lecturer and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Art and Art History, Columbia University
Daniel Callahan, Assistant Professor of Music, Boston College
The symposium will take place in Deknatel Hall, Lower Level.
Free and open to the public.