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Kim Sexton — Cracks in the Façade: Renaissance Palazzo, Renaissance Self

January 3, 2012

Please join for this year’s first Department of Architectural History Lecture:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

5:30 pm

SCAD Museum of Art Auditorium

601 Turner Boulevard

Savannah, Georgia

Professor Sexton will be speaking on:  Cracks in the Façade: Renaissance Palazzo, Renaissance Self

Americans are obsessed with houses as were men of the Italian Renaissance. The magnificence of Renaissance palazzos seems to celebrate the individual self-expression and autonomy of the great patrons who lived in them and the architects who designed them. It is somewhat disconcerting then to discover that many of these dignified facades end abruptly just after turning a corner. The stately residences frequently displayed their superficiality flagrantly, as if they were merely wearing the façade. How can this indeterminate condition be reconciled with the illustrious individualists and acclaimed “Renaissance men” for whom these palatial residences were made? In addressing this perplexing question, this talk focuses on the nature of the Renaissance individual. If the residential palazzo facade was indeed a representation of the self, then perhaps it is our understanding of the Renaissance self, rather than the palazzo, that ought to be modified to conform more closely to historical reality. Far from revisiting the autonomous Renaissance individual of Burckhardtian extraction – and yet equally far from the fragmented, self-fashioned ego of postmodernity – this exploration approaches the facade through new theories of Renaissance individualism and the tourist gaze. In so doing, it suggests that the cracks in the facade may reveal a crisis of self-representation rather than a panorama of self-assertion.

Professor Sexton teaches architectural history at the University of Arkansas. She has received numerous awards and has published articles on late medieval architecture in Italy. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled, Loggia Culture: Spatial Practices in Medieval Italy which positions the loggia or portico in cultural history.

Department of Architectural History lectures are free and open to the public. This lecture is part of the School of Building Arts lecture series. For more information email:

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