The Gifford Seminar: T. J. Clark (6 March 2020)

In his most recent book Heaven on Earth: Painting and the Life to Come (Thames & Hudson, 2018) Professor T.J. Clark set out to investigate the very different ways painting has given form to the dream of God’s kingdom come. In a key chapter, Clark focuses on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1567 Land of Cockaigne, which he sees as ‘the closest Bruegel ever came to painting the afterlife.’ ‘And yet,’ Clark notes, ‘isn't Bruegel the artist who reminds us most constantly following Genesis, that “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken”?’  In this seminar, Clark discussed Bruegel’s remarkable capacity to combine materialism with a fantastical vision of paradise. Dr Debbie Lewer (History of Art, University of Glasgow) offered a response to Clark’s work on Bruegel, drawing on her own recent writing about the artist, and her expertise in art and theology.

T. J. Clark is the author of many highly-influential books, including Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution (Berkeley, 1973);The Painting of Modern Life(Princeton, 1985); Farewell to an Idea (Yale, 1999); The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing (Yale, 2006); Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica (Princeton, 2013).