Academic Session 24: OU 2012

38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair
The Open University, Milton Keynes
29 - 31 March 2012

'Tattoo Art History'

Session Convenors:

Matt Lodder, University of Reading
Gemma Angel
, University College, London

Tattooing and other practices understood as ‘body arts’ (including but not limited to branding, scarification, piercing and even body painting and cosmetic surgery) have long been a source of popular and academic fascination, most usually discussed in anthropological, criminological, psychological or sociological contexts. Yet though the common phrase ‘body art’ used to describe tattooing and its coincident technologies is familiar and comprehensible, scholarly work which deals with the vernacular body arts using methodologies which are explicitly art- historical and art-theoretical has been all too infrequent. Papers in this session apply the critical approaches of art history and material culture studies to the body as an art object beyond a delineated artistic context, in reference to specific case studies and in the context of broader theoretical concerns. Speakers will address tattooing and other body arts and bodily practices, their practitioners, their practices and their products, and will consider, for example, questions of aesthetics, authorship, ownership, value and the status of the body as an artistic object; the applicability of artistic methodologies to the lived body; tattooing in performance art; and tattooing and other body-art imagery in historical contexts.


Gemma Angel
(University College London) Spectacular Tattooing: The Tattoo As Public Performance at the Early 20th-Century Fair

Kimberley Baltzer-Jaray (University of Guelph) Gadamer’s Hermeneutical Aesthetics & The Art of Tattoo

Jennifer Daubenberger (Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design) ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood’ – The Picture on The Body: About the Non-Image-Compliant Representativeness of Tattooing in the Western World

Anna Friedman Herlihy (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago) Recovering a Visual History of Western Tattooing, 1500–1850

Richard Sawdon-Smith (London South Bank University) The Anatomical Man: AIDS, Tattoos and Photography

Ole Wittmann (University of Hamburg) Skin and the Body as Canvas. Material Specific Aspects of the Art of Tattoo