Conference paper

Ackley, Joseph Salvatore:

Questions of workshop, technique, and object morphology in the circulation of early medieval metalwork

The typical precious-metal treasury object was a multimedia assemblage generated by a variety of techniques, including repoussé, engraving, casting, fire-gilding, enameling, filigree, etc. Many of these techniques cannot be learned or mimicked simply by viewing the finished object (with some exceptions, such as repoussé). Instead, they must be taught, and thus the transmission of style and form in precious metalwork is contingent upon the movement of the metalworker himself to an extent greater that that within other media, such as book painting and ivory carving.

This paper breaks down the precious-metal object into its constituent components – material, process of facture, ornament and figural style, and the overall object morphology – to ask, via three examples, in what ways and to what extent these elements could migrate.
First, the morphology of select Carolingian chalices and thuribles will be related to their Late Antique exemplars, including seventh- and eighth-century objects from Italy, Eastern Europe, and Syria. These examples demonstrate how object morphology could both disseminate easily and bear meaning (e.g., a coding by early medieval audiences as vaguely Antique).
Second, the tenth- and eleventh-century circumstances of cloisonné enamel, both north and south of the Alps, demonstrate the opposite, that is, the contingency of a technique and form of metalwork on a specific workshop.
Third, given the conference’s setting in Hildesheim, the early-eleventh-century Ottonian flowering of small-scale lost-wax casting will be briefly raised. The well studied question of whether the technique was either dormant in Lower Saxony or newly imported, via metalworkers themselves, from Anglo-Saxon England will be acknowledged, however my focus will be again on the workshop-contingency of lost-wax casting. I would also argue that, in possible contrast to enamel, the lost-wax method does not become geographically coded or otherwise significant of an otherness.
The extent to which metalwork could embody or index, via form or facture, diverse geographies inevitably varies.

Ph.D. Joseph Salvatore Ackley M.A., Institute of Fine Arts – New York University, September 2014: Dissertation: “‘Offer him gold; that is true love: Ottonian gold repoussé and the Western medieval church treasury”; M.A. Institute of Fine Arts – New York University, 2008; A.B. Dartmouth College, cum laude, 2003; Professional Experience: 2014-2016 Columbia University, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow; Spring 2014 Colorado College - Visiting Lecturer; 2013 The Cooper Union - Adjunct Professor; 2013 Montclair State University - Adjunct Professor; 2012-2014 Graduate Assistant, N.Y.U. Freshman Scholars Program; 2010-present The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Lecturer; 2012 N.Y.U., Department of Art History - Adjunct Instructor; 2011 N.Y.U., Department of Art History - Adjunct Instructor; 2009 N.Y.U., Department of Art History - Adjunct Instructor; 2007 The Museum of Modern Art - Educational Resources Intern; 2002-2003 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College - Mellon Curatorial Intern