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Kollar Lecture in American Art: Jennifer Greenhill

Submitted on January 23, 2024 - 12:54pm

Event Details

Thursday, May 9, 2024
6pm
Henry Art Gallery Auditorium
Free + open to the public. Please RSVP to help us anticipate attendance.


About the Lecture

Imagination made material: The commercial infrastructures of Lejaren à Hiller and Douglas Leigh

This lecture considers two commercial artists whose work revolved around light and the manipulation of matter to achieve emotional, persuasive ends: the photographic advertising illustrator, Lejaren à Hiller (1880-1969) and the electrical sign designer Douglas Leigh (1907-1999). However distinct their production—with the photographer modeling miniature sets in the studio and the sign designer working at mammoth scale for outdoor displays—both Hiller and Leigh orchestrated complex environments for selling. They did so through light in conjunction with a host of multisensorial techniques, which showcased their uncanny mastery of materials and capacity to reform reality. These were powerful illusions in the first decades of the twentieth century and especially in the thirties, a high point of their respective careers. Tracing Hiller’s and Leigh’s intersections with advertising psychology, I demonstrate how the latest thinking on consumer imagination informed their techniques for creating “atmospheres” for sales. How Hiller and Leigh articulated something as evanescent as atmosphere through cumbersome and elaborate material infrastructures is the substance of my research. I consider their projects in relation to scientific debates about the substance of light in these years, and situate them in the context of a larger effort to connect art and psychology for commercial purposes. 

About the Lecturer

Jennifer A. Greenhill is Endowed Professor of American Art at the University of Arkansas, where she also serves as the Inaugural Director of Graduate Studies for a new MA program in Arts of the Americas, a partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Director of Museum and Strategic Partnerships with the School of Art. She is the author of books on American visual humor, the state of the field of American art history, and article-length pieces on commercial art, word & image relations, race and the politics of visuality, and other topics.

This lecture is made possible by the Allan and Mary Kollar Endowed Chair in American Art History.

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