History of the Amateur

22, June 2010  |  Published : Figures de l'amateur, Seminars  | 

History of the amateur

Under the direction of Jacqueline Lichtenstein, from Paris IV University.

The word « amateur » has lost the precise meaning it had in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century in France. Then, private individuals who were neither painters nor sculptors could nonseminaretheless be received in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture because of the taste they demonstrated for the arts. They sat in the academy as « amateurs ». Ever since, the meaning of the word widened and is not limited to the domain of the arts anymore : one may be a lover of good wines or opera and be labeled an amateur in such and such fields. But the word also shifted from the taste toward the activities that one practices for fun or for reasons other than professional. Thus theatre and music are open to amateurs, and one can practices footbal or a collective sport within an amateur team. The ancient distinction between artists and amateurs which implied no hierarchy when they were seated together at the academy, has evolved into a differentiation between professionals and amateurs, which are socially unconsidered because they are always suspected to be too « amateurish ».

In this seminar we want to challenge to concept of the amateur and study empowerment and transformation within our society and in the arts, to gather artistic, philosophical and political insights.

Contact : Yves-Marie L’Hour
yves-marie.lhour@centrepompidou.fr

Accès: Sur invitation

Contact : Yves-Marie L’Hour
yves-marie.lhour@centrepompidou.fr

Place: Salle du collège

01-22-2008 : Attempt at an ontology of the amateur

I. The multiple uses of the word « amateur » and their different values.

II. The origins of a depreciation of all the meanings of « amateur » with a significative exception.
III. Why « Amateur » cannot be translated.
IV. The XVIIth century amateur at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.
V. How the amateur drifted and the advent of aesthetic in the XVIIIth century.
VI. The quarrel of the craftsmen.

02-26-2008 : Activity and knowledge in the amateur from Coypel to Valery.

I. Presentation of the seminar’s protocol in Ligne de Temps .
II. The key points of our 01-22-2008 session.
III. The reaction of the craftsmen against the writers : the Coypel conferences.
IV. The amateur’s and the collector’s relationship to objects in Caylus’ Dissertation.
V. Goethe’s criticism toward philosophers in The collector and his circle.
VI. Activity and relationship to the past in Nietzsche’s second Untimely meditation.
VII. Concluding with Valery : aesthetic pleasure transcend philosophical disagreements.

3-25-2008 : The artist as a professional figure : the sporadic nature of the show.

I. Introduction : why does the professional enter a debate on the amateur.
II. A portrait of the artist a worker, Pierre-Michel Menger (2002) : the arts as the antechamber of work in an ultra-liberal regime.
III. The sporadic regime of the show: professional identity or generalized identité professionnelle ou précarité vulnerability ?
IV. Dissociating income and work (the universal resource allocation) in the name of a new articulation of work and life. For and against the « cognitive capitalism ».
V. Conclusion: to rehabilitate amateurism as sphere of pure « non-productivity ».

04-8-2008 : From the love of art to the practice of drawing : the amateur during the XVIIIth century

I. Introduction : the numerous « non-practicioner » relationship toward the arts during the XVIIth and XVIIIth century : the curious, the virtuous, the connoisseur and the amateur.
II. Definition and formation of the amateur : between the love of art and mondanity.
III. The role of the amateurs : to help artists elaborate and formulate their « theory » on painting.
IV. Speeches against the prevention of taste and the apology of practice.
V. Conclusion : the difference between practice and mastery : how to define a master.

05-13-2008 : Are the amateurs artists ? Social behaviors and the policy of taste during the XVIIIth century

I. Introduction : reflection toward a definition of the social behaviors and the policy of taste during the XVIIIth century.
II. Defining the amateur and letting go of a romantic conception of creation : the amateur is an operator and a mediator in the world of art.
III. The amateur is legitimate : how to promote the amateur as a politic figure and model in reaction to the massification of the public’s tastes.
IV. The amateur practices of drawing and engraving and social mondanities.
V. The « Rembranesques » : from the imitation to the admiration of Rembrandt
VI. Conclusion: the amateur is a central figure of the world of the arts in the XVIIIth.

6-17-2008 : Amateurs and music connoisseurs during the XIXth century.

History of the amateur

Under the direction of Jacqueline Lichtenstein, from Paris IV University

The word « amateur » has lost the precise meaning it had in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century in France. Then, private individuals who were neither painters nor sculptors could nonseminaretheless be received in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture because of the taste they demonstrated for the arts. They sat in the academy as « amateurs ». Ever since, the meaning of the word widened and is not limited to the domain of the arts anymore : one may be a lover of good wines or opera and be labeled an amateur in such and such fields. But the word also shifted from the taste toward the activities that one practices for fun or for reasons other than professional. Thus theatre and music are open to amateurs, and one can practices footbal or a collective sport within an amateur team. The ancient distinction between artists and amateurs which implied no hierarchy when they were seated together at the academy, has evolved into a differentiation between professionals and amateurs, which are socially unconsidered because they are always suspected to be too « amateurish ».

In this seminar we want to challenge to concept of the amateur and study empowerment and transformation within our society and in the arts, to gather artistic, philosophical and political insights.

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