The work of Transcendentalist poet Ralph Waldo Emerson had a substantial impact on important writers and painters of his own time, but his influence also affected a broad range of American art created by subsequent generations. The seemingly antithetical showman P. T. Barnum, Emerson’s contemporary and a fellow Unitarian, also played a significant role in American art. In this lecture, Gregory Volk will explore the surprising ways in which the work of both men is reflected in 19th and 20th-century art and spectacle.

Gregory Volk is an art critic, curator, and associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. He recently co-curated Carnival Within—An Exhibition Made in America at the Ufer Hallen in Berlin.