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21 June 2022: Virtual Launch: Special Issue of Art in Translation on "Parchment, Parchemin, Pergament: 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-Century Authors on the History and Manufacture of Parchment"

Join us on the 21st June 2022, at 7pm BST (2pm EST) to celebrate the publication of issue 13.4 “Parchment, Parchemin, Pergament: 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-Century Authors on the History and Manufacture of Parchment”. This special issue was guest edited by Caroline Danforth (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA), features four texts about the history, manufacture, and use of parchment, and marks AIT’s first venture into technical art history.

The line-up of speakers is as follows:

  1. Iain Boyd Whyte (Editor of Art in Translation, The University of Edinburgh, UK)
  2. Caroline Danforth (Guest editor, Special Issue of AIT on parchment, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA)
  3. Gay McAuley (Translator of the Jérôme de La Lande text, University of Sydney, Australia) and Jiří Vnouček (Manuscript conservator, Copenhagen Royal Library, Denmark)
  4. Abigail Quandt (Senior Conservator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA)
  5. Matthew Collins (Niels Bohr Professor, University of Copenhagen and Professor of Biomolecular Archaeology, University of Cambridge)
  6. Megan McNamee (Lecturer, History of Art, The University of Edinburgh, UK)

Image from Zeger Hendrik de Groot's article “The Manufacture of Goldbeater’s Skin, Transparent Parchment, and Split Parchment” (translated by Caroline Danforth). Courtesy of Mr de Groot.


27 & 28 April 2022: Conference - Hot Art, Cold War: US Art and Portugal, 1945-1990
Location: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Sala de Congressos 1, Lisbon

For more information and the program, please click here HACW Lisbon workshop
(Image: Nikias Skapinakis. Portrait of the Critics, 1971. Col. Brasileira do Chiado)

12 April 2022: Virtual Launch: Special Issue of Art in Translation on "Ottoman Architecture at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair"

Art in Translation is delighted to announce the publication of a special triple issue on Ottoman Architecture, guest edited jointly by Mary Roberts (University of Sydney) and Samuel Williams (Max Planck Institute, Halle) (Volume 13, Issues 1-3, 2021).

The triple issue includes an introductory article by Mary Roberts and Samuel Williams, “Introduction: A Monumental Book: Ottoman Architecture at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair” and translation into English by Gay McAuley (Royal Holloway) of the French text Ottoman Architecture (Constantinople, 1873), produced for the 1873 Vienna World Fair and written by Victor Marie de Launay and others. The special issue includes this history of Ottoman architecture that has essays on eight individual monuments, a technical dossier, a theory of Ottoman ornament and 190 illustrated plates. The launch will feature contributions by Ahmet Ersoy (Boğaziçi University), Zeynep Çelik (Columbia University), Margaret Graves (Indiana University) and Erin Hyde Nolan (Tufts University and Maine College of Art and Design).

A recording of the virtual launch can be found here

2 March 2021: Book launch - Hot Art, Cold War - European Writing on American Art 1945-1990 (2 volumes, Routledge, 2020). To register and receive a zoom link, please contact

1 March 2019: Reflections on 10 Years of Art in Translation - Decentering Art History?
(Claudia Hopkins,  Translating the History of Art-Conference, Kunsthistorische Institut, Florence, 1 March 2019) -

7-8 November 2013: Conference: Translating Cultures in the Hispanic World, University of Edinburgh

Location: Teviot Dining Room, Teviot Row, 13 Bristo Square, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ

The dual mission of the radically novel journal Art in Translation consists in challenging the boundaries of conventional art history as practised in Europe and North America, and stimulating thinking about the problems and paradoxes of translation within the art historical discourse. Translating Cultures in the Hispanic World, is the fourth conference hosted by AIT, exploring the interface between the visual arts and theories of cultural translation.

(Image: The Encounter between Cortés and Montezuma II, 19th c. / Bridgeman Art Library)

The Hispanic world represents an exceptionally rich and fertile context in which to reflect on the role of translation not only as a vehicle for cultural exchange, the transmission of bodies of knowledge and memory, but also as a means of either asserting or resisting power in order to create something new. Drawing on translation theory, the conference seeks to encourage new ways of thinking about influence, reception, and mis-appropriation. Issues to be addressed include: domestication versus foreignization; transgressive modes of translation; translation between different media and contexts; translation-knowledge-power; translation as colonization.

The conference is transhistorical, shifting focus from medieval Spain to the wider Hispanic world in the early modern and modern period. Topics to be covered include:
- objects of cross-cultural communication in medieval Spain
- shifts and adaptations in Iberian iconographies
- transfer and transformations of Iberian models of art in Latin America
- cultural representations of social ‘others’
- 19th-century photography, the image as transmitter of another presence
- historiography; the reception of Hispanic art.

Thursday, 7 November 2013,  9.00 – 17.30

9.00-9.15         Registration

9.15-9.30         Welcome by Claudia Hopkins

9.30 - 12.50     Session 1: Visual Culture and Translation in Medieval Spain

  • Alejandro García Aviles (Professor of Art History, Universidad de Murcia), "Lost and Found in Translation: Visual Interpretation in Medieval Astrological Iconography".
  • Mariam Rosser-Owen (Curator of Middle Eastern collections, Victoria and Albert Museum), “Islamic Objects in Christian Contexts: Gift Exchange and Relic Translation”.
  • Tom Nickson (Lecturer, Courtauld Institute), “Texts and Talismans in Medieval Castile”.
  • Emily Goetsch (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh), “Translating Cartography: The Mappaemundi of the Beatus Commentary on the Apocalypse".

12.50 - 13.30      Lunch Break

13.30 - 17.30   Session 2: Spain and the New World

  • Maria Judith Feliciano (Independent Scholar, Seattle), “Towards a Theory of Mudejar Art”
  • Felipe Pereda (Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor of the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University), “Translation/Translatio: Importing Sacred Images in the New World".
  • Thomas Cummins (Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art History; Harvard University) "Here, There and Now:  The Transformation from the Oral to the Figural in Colonial Mexican Manuscripts".

Questions and Answers and Drinks Reception (ending at 17.30)

Friday, 8 November 2013,  9.30 -  17.00

9.30 - 12.05     Session 3: Foreignisation, Domestication, Adaptation

  • Marjorie Trusted (Senior Curator of Sculpture, Victoria & Albert Museum)  “Melchiorre Caffa's Sculpture of Sta Rosa of Lima. The Export of a Baroque Marble Sculpture from Rome to Peru".
  • Carmen Fracchia (Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Spanish Visual Studies at Birckbeck, University of London), “Whitening the African body in Early Modern Spain”.
  • Laura Fernandez Gonzalez (former Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh), "Madrid and the Wider World: Domestic Architecture and the Spanish Empire in the Sixteenth Century".

12.05 - 13.00      Lunch Break

13.00 - 17.00   Session 4: Modernity, Memory and Historiography

  • Andrew Ginger (Professor of Iberian and Latin American Studies, University of Bristol, UK) “Translating Presence: Photographing Actors”.
  • Hilary Macartney (Research Associate, University of Glasgow), “In True Fac-simile? The Invention of Photography and the Reproduction of Spanish art”.
  • Jens Baumgarten (Professor of Art History, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), Brazil), "Translations of concepts: Brazil, Hanna Levy and the Neo-Baroque".
  • Gabriela Siracusano (Director Instituto de Investigaciones sobre el Patrimonio Cultural Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM), Researcher at the National Research Council, Argentina) , "Faraway Tools for Local Tales: Uses and Appropriation of European Theories and Methods in the Construction of a National Art History in Argentina".
  • Concluding Remarks

Conference fees:
£30 (£15 concessions)
The conference is free for University of Edinburgh students (who will still need to register).

Conference Schedule


Chinese Art: Translation, Adaptation and Modalities, 27-28 October 2011, University of Edinburgh

Conference Venues:
Day 1: Lecture Room 1, Minto House, 20 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JZ
Day 2: Teviot Dining Room, Teviot Row, 13 Bristo Square, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ

Partner Institution: Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh

This conference on Chinese art history and translation is inspired by Art in Translation and its dual mission, which consists in challenging the boundaries of conventional art history as practised in Europe and North America, and stimulating thinking about the problems and paradoxes of translation within the art historical discourse.

This conference builds on the pioneering conference on Art Writing: Translation, Adaptation, Modalities hosted by AIT and VARIE (Visual Arts Research Institute Edinburgh) in Edinburgh in April 2009, which brought together a number of distinguished scholars from art history and translation studies. Having established the broad parameters of the discussion on translation and the visual arts, AIT now seeks to tighten the focus and stimulate thinking about the role of translation within a specific linguistic realm and a particular the field of art history and visual culture.

27 October, 5.15pm

Introduction by Natascha Gentz , Confucius Institute for Scotland.
Key note address: Roderick Whitfield, University of London SOAS: Art in Translation: When Buddhism Came to China

28 October, 9.30am – 6.00pm
Session 1: Why Translate?

          • Iain Boyd Whyte, University of Edinburgh: Welcome Address: Art in Translation
          • Puay-Peng Ho, The Chinese University of Hong Kong: Mind the Gap: Will More Translated Works in the Field of Chinese Architectural History Help?
          • Michael Nylan, University of California-Berkeley: Heritage Issues in Translation: Convergent Preoccupations in Chinese and Western Scholarship
          • Chia-Ling Yang, University of Edinburgh: Archaic Art and Translated Modernity in China

Session 2: Exotic China, Exotic West

          • Youngsook Pak, University of London SOAS: Chaekkori – a Chosŏn Conundrum –
          • Alain George, University of Edinburgh: China and the Islamic World: Early Encounters in Art and Culture (7th-10th century)
          • Yuka Kadoi, Art Institute of Chicago: China in Islamic Art after the Mongol Invasions of Eurasia: Centuries of Translations
          • Hsueh-Man Shen, New York University: ‘Dragon’ or ‘Long’ in Chinese Art

Download the Conference Programme and Abstracts.

The conference will be jointly chaired by Dr. Hsueh-man Shen, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York) and Professor Iain Boyd Whyte, Editor of Art in Translation (University of Edinburgh). It is organised by VARIE (Visual Arts Research Institute Edinburgh). Participants are drawn from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including Art and Architectural History, Visual Culture, Chinese History, and Translation Studies. For more information, contact the Managing Editor of Art in Translation Claudia Heide (

Fees: £30 per delegate (£15 concessions) include reception (day 1), tea/coffee, lunch (day 2). The conference is FREE for History of Art students from the University of Edinburgh. Students should email Claudia Heide ( to register for the event (registration is compulsory as places are limited).


AIT at CAA 2011 in New York : “Translating Visual Culture”

AIT hosted a session on Art and Translation at the CAA (College Art Association)'s 99th annual conference, 12  February 2011, New York. The aim was to stimulate discussion on the nature, practice, and impact of translation on art writing. Art history is dependent on texts written in many languages, which have crossed linguistic borders by means of translation. The act of translation, however, is never politically innocent. What was translated when, by whom, and with what impact? To what degree did translation establish the traditional Western canon? Can translation challenge the canon? What is the potential of translation theory as a critical methodology to advance thinking about visual culture? What might a heightened understanding of the importance of translation bring to art history?


          • Deborah Stein (Independent Scholar):  Translating the Year 1299: On Reading Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic in English
          • Claudia Heide (University of Edinburgh): Translating the past: 19th-century Spanish artists and Al Andalus
          • Jeffrey Saletnik (Columbia University): John Cage and the Task of the Translator

Round table participants:

          • David Craven (Distinguished Professor of Art History at the University of New Mexico)
          • Francesco Pellizzi (Editor of the journal Res)
          • Zoë Strother (Riggio Professor of African Art, Columbia University)
          • Iain Boyd Whyte (University of Edinburgh)


Art Writing: Translations, Adaptations, Modalities

Edinburgh, 23-24 April 2009

Professor Ruth Phillips presenting a paper at the Art Writing symposium
The publication of the first issue of Art in Translation in March 2009 was marked with an international symposium entitled Art Writing: Translations, Adaptations and Modalities. It was organised by the Visual Arts Research Institute, Edinburgh (VARIE) in association with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH).

The event took place in Edinburgh on 23 and 24 April 2009, and was attended by internationally acclaimed scholars, promising younger academics, curators, translators and postgraduate students.

The programme and abstracts of the papers given at the symposium can be found below.

Conference Programme

Thursday 23 April 2009, afternoon
Session 1 - Power Relations

          • Professor Iain Boyd Whyte, Director of VARIE, University of Edinburgh
            Welcome and introduction to Art in Translation
          • Professor Peter France, Emeritus Professor of French, University of Edinburgh
            Translation: the serva padrona
          • Professor Ruth Phillips, Professor of Art History and Canada Research Chair, Carleton University, Ottawa
            Seeing through Translation: Jesuit and Onkwehonwe Visual and Material Mediations in Seventeenth Century North America
          • Nachiket Chanchani, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
            Gandhi's (In)fidelity: Reflections on Art Writing and Translation in Colonial India

Friday 24 April 2009, morning
Session 2 - Interpretations and re-readings

          • Professor Lawrence Venuti, Professor of English, Temple University, Philadelphia
            Translation, Interpretation, Ekphrasis )
          • Professor Vojtech Lahoda (Institute of Art History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Charles University, Prague
            Cubism Translated: Western Canon of Modernism and Central/Eastern European Art History
          • Dr Claudia Heide, Managing Editor, Art in Translation
            Alhambra-mania: the many lives of the Alhambra 1750-1854

Friday 24 April 2009, afternoon
Session 3 - Translation as process

          • Professor Clive Scott, Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia
            Intermediality and Synaesthesia: Literary Translation as Centrifugal Practice
          • Dr Fiona Elliott, Translator of art texts, Edinburgh
            Honour thine author
          • Professor Tom Cummins, Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art History, Harvard University
            Pictorial Speeches and Silences: The Spaces of Translations and non-Translations in Spanish Colonial 16th-century Texts

Professor Vojtech Lahoda presenting a paper to the Art Writing audience

Art Writing: Translations, Adaptations, Modalities
Edinburgh, 23-24 April 2009

Welcome and introduction to Art in Translation

Professor Iain Boyd Whyte
Director of VARIE and Editor of AIT, University of Edinburgh

Art in Translation (AIT) is the first journal that takes as its mission the publication of quality English language translation of the most interesting articles on visual culture presently available only in their source language. These texts are drawn from all areas of the visual arts: painting and drawing, sculpture, architecture, design, installation works and digital media. It will introduce the English-speaking readership to new areas of scholarship that share as their main qualities their excellence and originality.

While not attempting encyclopaedic coverage, AIT will act as a window onto the practice of art history and visual culture. The journal itself and the collaborative effort involved in producing it will act as a significant catalyst in connecting scholars worldwide, in bringing important scholarship to wider attention and in moving art history in challenging new directions.

Translation is the essential vehicle for the AIT project, and the intention of this symposium is to locate translation in the visual arts within the broader discourse of translation studies and translation theory.

Translation: the serva padrona

Professor Peter France
Emeritus Professor of French, University of Edinburgh

Professor Peter France
The title, taken from the opera buffa, refers to the vexed issue of the relationship between original author/text and translator/translation. What are the duties and responsibilities of the translator vis-à-vis the original and the new readers for whom s/he is making a translation? One type of discourse, often adopted by practitioners, stresses the subservient position of the translator, whose role is (allegedly) simply to serve the original -- as unobtrusively as possible. But this humility topos dissimulates the real power enjoyed by the translator, who comes after, and sometimes has the last word (this power has been joyfully assumed by another type of translation discourse).

As I see it, there is no single ‘right relationship’ between translator and translated; taking some examples mainly from my own experience, I shall ask what are the factors that can and should constrain or mitigate the translator’s freedom.

Seeing through Translation: Jesuit and Onkwehonwe Visual and Material Mediations in Seventeenth-Century North America

Professor Ruth B. Phillips
Professor of Art History and Canada Research Chair, Carleton University, Ottawa

Professor Ruth Phillips
Visual and material forms of communication were central to the mercantile, political, military, and religious projects of Europeans and indigenous Algonkians and Onkwehonwe (Iroquoians) in the seventeenth-century contact zone of north-eastern North America. To render these forms of communication effective, existing conventions and systems of value associated with materials and images had to be translated, most often by fixing a mutually recognizable system of analogues. Material and visual analogies, in turn, proved highly fertile for the invention of new, hybrid art forms through which historical actors on both sides of the cultural divide came to see and understand each other. The wampum belt, woven of the shell beads highly valued by indigenous peoples, was one of the most important of these inventions. Its uses by Jesuits and Onkwehonwe, and the new graphic language of signs and symbols it made visible, will be the focus of this talk.

On one level the paper’s larger aim will be to elucidate the ways that seventeenth-century people saw each other in translation. On another level, it will take up the postcolonial art historian’s challenge to see through translation to the processes of mediation that allowed the present to take its current shapes as well as the misunderstandings and losses incurred by translation that continue to trouble that present.

Gandhi’s (In)fidelity: Reflections on Art Writing and Translation in Colonial India

Nachiket Chanchani
PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Nachiket Chanchani
In frequently cited monographs on the production of art history in colonial India, Mahatma Gandhi and other residents of the province of Gujarat in Western India are described as passive bystanders on the peripheries of the heated debates between British and Bengali scholars who were active in London and Calcutta and were writing in English. My paper challenges this narrative and posits that by carefully posturing themselves as translators, Gandhi and his fellow Gujaratis were able to emerge as agents on the margins.

In the first portion of this paper, I specifically discuss Gandhi’s rendition of John Ruskin’s Unto This Last as Sarvodaya. I contend that by not translating Ruskin’s text, but by thinking with Ruskin in Gujarati, Gandhi forged a tool to negotiate colonial power relations and construct a culture he desired.

Thereafter, I turn to an essay by Sarabhai Manilal Nawab, Gandhi’s younger contemporary and a fellow Gujarati. Nawab, through translations, transformed implements of Jain ritual into works of art, corroborated and confronted the canons that were being formulated by British and Bengali scholars and succeeded in maintaining the close connections between riches and renunciation that were valued by Gandhi and the Jains.

Translation, Interpretation, Ekphrasis

Professor Lawrence Venuti
Professor of English, Temple University, Philadelphia

Professor Lawrence Venuti
Translation theory enables a rigorous critical methodology that can advance thinking about visual culture, whether art criticism or museum exhibition, ekphrastic literature or film adaptation. The relation between such second-order works and their source materials is not instrumental, not a reproduction or transfer of a formal or semantic invariant, but rather hermeneutic, an interpretation that varies source form and meaning through the application of an interpretant. The hermeneutic relation must be viewed as transformative because a key aspect of any interpretant is its relation to cultural traditions and social situations that differ from those of the source material. As a result, the hermeneutic relation can be treated not only as interpretive, a variable attempt to fix source form and meaning, but as interrogative, exposing the cultural and social conditions of the source material and of the second-order work that has processed it. The critic in turn applies an interpretant, whether a critical methodology or specific interpretation, to formulate the hermeneutic relation and its interrogative effects.

My argument will be grounded on an analysis of a translation project that involves ekphrastic poetry: my English version of the Catalan poet Ernest Farrés’ book, Edward Hopper (2006), specifically Farrés’s poem on Hopper’s painting, Compartment C, Car 293 (1938).

Cubism Translated: Western Canon of Modernism and Central/Eastern European Art History

Professor Vojtech Lahoda
Institute of Art History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and Charles University, Prague

Professor Vojtech Lahoda
On the example of the most canonical style of the 20th century I would like to show what happens if an internationally recognized style such as Cubism is translated into a different geographical milieu. I will talk about Cubism in Central and Eastern Europe and am going to focus on the issue of translation, transmutation and hybridization of Cubism (developed in Paris around 1910-1914) in the countries to the east of France. Cubism became a major part of the canon of Western Modernism since the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art (MOMA New York, 1936). I argue that the “translation” of Cubism into different social, cultural and political contexts creates a completely different meaning for the “translated” style. Nevertheless art historians of Modernism still do call such translations (or derivations) “Cubism”. In some cases new terms were used to describe an unclear translation of the conception of Cubism: Cubo-expressionism, Cubo-futurism, Cubo-Constructivism etc.

I will focus on the reception and “translation” of Cubism between 1910-1918 in Czech art as well as in Latvian art. The Latvian artists from the Riga Group of Artists accepted Cubism around 1920. In both cases Cubism played a different role in the local context. In the Czech lands Cubism was understood paradoxically not only as a vehicle for international modernism, but also as a sign of national identity.

Alhambra-mania: The many lives of the Alhambra 1750 -- 1854

Dr Claudia Heide
Managing Editor of AIT, University of Edinburgh

Dr Claudia Heide
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Andalucia, a crossway between the European and the Oriental, came to play a key part within the burgeoning fascination with the so-called ‘Orient’: the Maghreb, the Near and Middle East. In this context, Southern Spain, where the Islamic past was clearly imprinted in its medieval monuments, represented the nearest and most accessible place to gain a flavour of the Oriental. The monument that above all captivated the British imagination, was the Alhambra, the vast palace-fortress raised by the Nasrid sultans in Granada. Neglected by the Spanish themselves - partly due to their ambivalent attitude towards their own Islamic past - the Alhambra became a favourite subject for foreign writers and artists, who successfully popularised the building through literature, paintings, prints and architectural models and even a partial recreation at the Crystal Palace. There were many Alhambras: a Gothic Alhambra, a Romantic Alhambra; a sublime Alhambra, a ‘Windsor-castle’-Alhambra, an archaeological Alhambra, a decorative Alhambra.

This paper explores the process by which British artists translated Nasrid architecture into idioms that could be understood and sold at home. Particular attention will be drawn to Owen Jones’ Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra, the first extensive and vigorous investigation of the Alhambra that favoured scholarship over sentiment. Focus will be on the collaboration -- usually overlooked -- between Jones and the Spanish Arabist scholar, Pascual de Gayangos, who advocated the translation of primary Arabic sources to make visible the history and culture of Islamic Spain from ‘within’. It is argued that Gayangos’ collaboration with Jones produced a breakthrough in the diffusion of a more accurate understanding of the Alhambra on its own terms.

Intermediality and Synaesthesia: Literary Translation as Centrifugal Practice

Professor Clive Scott
Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia

Professor Clive Scott
The paper argues for literary translation as a centrifugal or dispersive practice - despite its textual ‘fidelity’ -- which constantly relocates the literary at the ‘extremities’ of its practice. This dispersal is also a proliferation, which looks to develop a prosthetics of language through the multiplication of intermedial or sensory associations; translational reading must be transmitted as a whole-body response. But there are obvious limitations to overcome: the constraints of the alphabet (e.g. its inevitable hostility to the paralinguistic) parallel those of notation in modern music and make necessary a new approach to iconicity/onomatopoeia, which in turn gives fuller significance to homophonic translations and the ambitions of Lettrism. The enterprise suggests a new role for the handwritten, too, as a trace of voice and the assimilation of language to graphic gesture, and equally necessitates a reassessment of the functions of paginal space.

In the end, the argument about dispersal and proliferation leads into the proposal that literary translation should imagine itself as an eco-activity, establishing a close correlation between linguistic diversity and ‘bio-diversity’. As the ST moves into a new environment, the TT generates a translational language unfamiliar either to the SL or the TL, on the edge of extinction, because responsive to a very specific synaesthetic environment.

Honour thine Author

Dr Fiona ElliottDr Fiona Elliott
Translator of Art Texts, Edinburgh

Ideally, not only does the specialist translator of art texts (in this case, German to English) treat the author with respect and consideration, the author also reciprocates in a similar fashion. In fact this is more often than not the case, in part because of the very particular role of the art translator in the art world today. In a sense, for a very brief period, the translator is at the centre of a web of different interests and has to balance the concerns of a wide range of different players (in no particular order, here) -- artist, artist’s secretary or estate, author, curator, sponsor, publisher, editor. Often the translator and the author find themselves steering a course together through what can be quite choppy waters.

In addition to this, the translator has to bear in mind the wider concerns of the author. In the art world today, any German-speaking art professionals wanting to make their mark have to publish in English. This, pleasantly, ensures an endless supply of extremely interesting work for the specialist translator, but it also means that the translator is specifically required to respond to and communicate a particular author’s style. Art texts these days are much more than factual accounts. In the face of the highly complex or bafflingly simple appearance of many works of art today, authors resort to a whole range of devices -- from pure fiction (stories, imagined interviews) to speculative explorations to scientific explanations to philosophy of the most abstruse kind. The art text is not infrequently intended as a form of artistic expression in its own right. Today’s art translator and editor is also increasingly called on to edit texts in English written by non-native speakers of English. This task, although potentially arduous, has a particular fascination as one strives to remove any awkwardnesses and potential for confusion without obscuring the author’s voice.

Pictorial Speeches and Silences: The Spaces of Translations and non-Translations in Spanish Colonial 16th-Century Texts

Professor Tom Cummins
Professor Tom Cummins
Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art History
Harvard University

This talk will examine how images either avoided translations or stood as the neutral ground of agreement between translations from one language and another in colonial Latin America.

It will focus on native languages Nahuatl and Quechua, and Spanish as it appears in law suits and manuscripts involving Native peoples.


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