VASARI/500: Envisioning New Directions in Vasari Studies

History of Art and Architecture Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 28-29 October 2011

Deadline:  15 May 2011

Courtier, architect and impresario of Duke Coismo de’Medici’s most famous commissions, founder of the first state-sponsored academy for the arts, and author of the first extended discussion of contemporary artists – no individual had had a greater impact on early modern art and its historiography than Giorgio Vasari. Nor has any figure been more controversial: criticized by turns for his regional biases and high regard of theory at the cost of arts and crafts traditions, Vasari’s work and its legacy have been the subject of debate for centuries. Vasari continues to figure prominently in critical debates throughout the humanities: from the birth of the cult of the individual, and the role of contentious models in the writing and re-writing of the past, to the effect of literature and art on the representation, production and reception of European civilization. It is for these reasons we announce with great pleasure a two-day symposium marking the five-hundredth anniversary of the borth of Giorgio Vasari.

“Vasari/500” will unite doctoral students, recent graduates, and an international group of scholars with the aim of reassessing the Tuscan-born artist and writer’s central, if deeply contested, role in charting histories of the Renaissance. Thematic panels, sessions dedicated to the first-hand study of related artworks, and a roundtable discussion will allow participants to consider Vasari and his legacy both in depth and across disciplinary boundaries. What is Vasari’s place in the humanities today, and how might the study of this figure illuminate our own world as well as that of Renaissance Italy? “Vasari/500” aim, then, to be both tribute and re-evaluation; both reflection and prescription.

We welcome proposals for 25-minute papers from students currently enrolled in doctoral programs, and from those who have recently received their degrees. We encourage applicants from all fields, and invite cross-disciplinary papers and comparative studies. Controversial topics and polemical stances are welcome. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Vasari as painter, draftsman, architect or collector.
  • Vasari as historian, poet, humanist, theorist or courtier.
  • Vasari and the construction of artistic personae.
  • Vasari north of the Alps.
  • Vasari and the minor arts.
  • Vasari and the establishment of artistic academies.
  • Vasari and biological metaphors in art and history.
  • Vasari’s methods in constructing Le Vite, and the question of collective authorship in that text.
  • The afterlife of Vasari: Le Vite as paradigm for later biographers, including Bellori, Baldinucci and Malvasia.

Interested participants should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words and a one-page CV to

Applications must be received by May 15, 2011.

For more information, please consult: