auditorium, vitraux, musée Chagall, photo Gilles Ehrentrant, 2021
Conferences and symposiums

Conference by Ralph Dekoninck

Holy Horrors and Sacrileges. Arts, violence and religions from the Renaissance to the present day
Tuesday 4th April 2023, at 7pm
Musée national Marc Chagall

Ralph Dekoninck
Holy Horrors and Sacrileges. Arts, violence and religions from the Renaissance to the present day (in French)

It exists a privileged place of expression and experimentation in the relationship between art, violence and religion in the Renaissance and Baroque periods: the representation of martyrdom. It then became the laboratory of the tension between an impulse to see horror and a desire to reveal the sacred with a view to an inner conversion. This lecture will explore this aesthetic of 'sacred horror', combining fear, disgust, and fascination, even veneration, through the work of such emblematic artists as Caravaggio, Poussin and Rubens. In particular, it will explore the way in which these painters conceive the disfiguration of bodies as a process of (trans-)figuration of sanctity, a process of the emergence of an image beyond the visible. It will also show how this imagery of martyrdom resonates with the wars of religion that were tearing Europe apart at the time.

This iconographic and iconological journey will lead to a wider reflection on the connections that can be drawn between this visual promotion of violence and the forms of media coverage of terrorist violence today. It is not so much a question of identifying anthropological invariants as of shedding light on a certain number of figurative models that constitute so many screen images that continue to nourish or contaminate our contemporary imagination, where terror and fascination with the spectacle of mediatised violence are mixed.  

Ralph Dekoninck is a professor of art history at the University of Louvain, director of the centre for cultural analysis of early modernity (GEMCA), and a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium. His research focuses on the theories and practices of the image in the early modern age, on the culture of the Baroque spectacle, and on the iconography of martyrdom. His publications include Ad Imaginem. Statuts, functions and uses of the image in 17th century Jesuit spiritual literature (Geneva, 2005). The embodying vision and the embodied image. Santi di Tito and Caravaggio (Paris, 2016). Holy Horror and Sacrilege. Image, violence and religion, 16th and 21st centuries (Brussels, 2018).  For more information, click here


This series of lectures is a co-production of UCArts - Cultural Department of the Côte d'Azur University and the 20th Century National Museums of the Alpes-Maritimes. The six lectures are organised in partnership with the Friends of the Marc Chagall National Museum Association.

The programme is developed by the museum in collaboration with Josiane Rieu, professor of 16th century French literature at the Côte d'Azur University and member of the Transdisciplinary Centre for the Epistemology of Literature and the Living Arts.

To discover our series of lectures for the 2022-23 season, click here

Ralph Dekoninck. Photo : © DR

The museum is open every day except Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

From November to April: from 10am to 5pm
From May to October: from 10am to 6pm

Free admission to the auditorium, depending on the number of seats available.

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Ralph Dekoninck, affiche, photo (c) DR
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