Francesco Ventrella

Abstract subjectivities and queer empathy

A renowned art scholar and critic, Vernon Lee (born Violet Paget, 1856-1935) occupies an interesting place in the history of art history not so much because of her discoveries about ancient statuary, but for the way in which she used them. After 1895, in collaboration with her lover Clementina Anstruther-Thomson, Lee embarked on a series of psychological experiments to record their physical responses to works of art. In this lecture, Francesco Ventralla will look at some experiments they conducted in art galleris in order to discuss the importance of their “exercises” with ancient sculptures in relation to queer aesthetics then and now.

Francesco Ventrella is Lecturer in Art History and Convenor of Postgraduate Studies in the Art History Department, University of Sussex. He holds a BA and MA from La Sapienza University of Rome, and a PhD from the University of Leeds, where he studied under the supervision of Griselda Pollock. Francesco’s research is informed by feminist and queer interventions in aesthetics, art history, and historiography; his interests lie in the relationship between materiality, corporeality and writing. Francesco is the co-editor with Giovanna Zapperi, of Art and Feminism in Postwar Italy: the Legacy of Carla Lonzi (Bloomsbury, forthcoming) and is also completing his first monograph A Feeling for Form. Connoisseurship as Cultural History. Francesco has been the recipient of the British Academy/Accademia dei Lincei Bursary (2007), the Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-2016) and the Paul Mellon Fellowship (2019). A former editor of Parallax (2008-2011), he has recently joined the editorial board of Art History.