Natalia Di Pietrantonio will give a Work-in-Progress presentation on Wednesday, October 2, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled, “Desiring Collectors: The Gayer-Anderson Twins and Their Works on Paper.”

The Gayer-Anderson twins, brothers Robert Grenville and Thomas, were active collectors of local paintings and works on paper throughout their military careers as British army officers. From roughly 1911 to 1952, they served in India and Cairo where they collected a range of objects. They continued their collecting in their retirement in England, through antique crawls, and subsequently donated their collection to major museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Australia. In this regard, the brothers actively participated in conceptualizing Indian paintings and drawings as an Indian and British national art form by writing letters, creating catalogues, and assisting, as well as arguing, with curators. This talk foregrounds the collecting practices of the Gayer-Anderson twins by tracing how they participated in transforming arts of the book from craft into valuable art. It also disentangles their concept of “twinning,” which the Gayer-Andersons defined as having brotherly sensibilities that imitated one another. With “twinning,” they claimed that they were able to collect separately and in different global arenas and at the same time their interchangeable tastes resulted in a cohesive collection. While I explore their idea of twinning in the realm of collecting sensibilities, in particular this talk will re-suture the relationship between their collection and their sexual desires. For the brothers, sex and objects were imbricated as the represented figures in their drawing collection became proxies for their real erotic lives.

Natalia Di Pietrantonio is the Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Art and Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center. Her research interests include the transference and the efficacy of Islamicate images and texts to produce intimacy, transgression, ethics, and sovereignty.