International Conference on Practices of Copying and Imitation in Early Modern Architecture (1400-1700)

June 15-16, 2023

VANDENHOVE Center for Architecture and Arts (Ghent, Belgium)
Organisers: Elizabeth Merrill (Ghent University) and Nele De Raedt (UCLouvain)

This international conference starts from the premise that practices of imitation and copying were integral to the making of architecture in early modern Europe. Theoretical discourses of the period posited that architecture was an art in constant evolution based on imitation (imitatio). Extending from classical rhetoric, imitation was said to entail an element of invention, which allowed for the adaptation and skilled use of models. Following this formulation, scholars of early modern architecture have written extensively about the numerous parallels between literary and architectural theory, mining the former in devising frameworks for the conceptualization of architecture.

By contrast, this conference seeks to direct attention to verifiable practices and material documentation of copying and imitation in the workshop and on the building site, and how this evidence sheds new light on the production of architecture. Individual conference papers address commonplace processes of copying and imitation, as manifest in techniques of traced drawing, the manipulation of models, the casting of ornaments, writing on architecture, and the reproduction of decorative details. In considering copying and imitation as part of routine practice, often motivated by needs of economy, efficiency, and scale, the conference aims to better understand the driving forces that enabled the rich and varied architectural culture of the early modern period.

The full program and registration can be found here.

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