“Breathless Days: 1959 – 1960”

Organized by Professors Serge Guilbaut and John O’Brian with Carla Benzan and Aldona Dziedziejko in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.

In the midst of the Cold War, while the world held its breath in anticipation of an atomic apocalypse, artists of all kinds grappled with a tense and rapidly changing world. Named after the iconic New Wave film by Jean-Luc Godard, “A Bout de Souffle” of 1960, the conference examines the fascinating relationship between those breathless days and the art they inspired. The conference will revisit this understudied moment to make fresh connections between politically charged events and cultural production. Presenters will explore topics related to postwar Europe and “Las Americas” (Canada, USA and Latin America).

11:30 – 11:45 am Reserved Seating Registration
11:45 – 12:00 pm Registration

  • 12:00 – 1:30 pm Session One
    Steven Harris (University of Alberta) “Eros, c’est la vie”
    Mari Dumett (Wesleyan University) “Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg and Transatlantic ‘Meta-Dada’ Material Reality”

1:30 – 2:00 pm Coffee Break (provided)

  • 2:00 – 4:15 Session Two
    Bruce Barber (NSCAD) “Pygmalion’s Power: Bucket of Blood (1959) and Peeping Tom (1960)”
    Tom McDonough (SUNY, Binghamton) “‘My heart beats only for Picabia:’ Francis Picabia and the Neo-Avant-Garde, 1953-1963”
    Eric de Chassey (Director, Villa de Medici in Rome) “Duplicate and Reduplicate Painting Images: Alex Katz in 1959”
  • 4:30-5:30pm Round table discussion
    A round table discussion with Eric de Chassey lead by Scott Watson and Serge Guilbaut.
  • 5:30-6:00pm Closing Remarks (Serge Guilbaut and John O’Brian)


For conference details and to join the online project please visit: http://breathlessdays1959-1960.wikispaces.com/. Other events taking place in association with the conference proceedings include: a large art exhibition, “Breathless Days 1959-1960: A Chronotropic Experiment,” at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (April 16 – June 2); a film screening of “A Bout de Souffle” and “Psycho” in their original 35mm format at Pacific Cinematheque (May 2 – 3); musical performances on the UBC campus throughout May and June; an online web-based project bringing together students and scholars; a permanent website archiving the conference proceedings for scholars and the public (2010-2015).

For more information contact the organizers at conf5960@interchange.ubc.ca.

“Breathless Days: 1959-1960” is made possible by the support of: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences; the Consulate General of France in Vancouver; the Pacific Cinémathèque (www.cinematheque.bc.ca). The following offices at the University of British Columbia: the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts; the Department of Art Visual Art, and Theory; the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, Office of the Provost and Vice President Academic; the Walter H. Gage Memorial Fund, Office of the Vice President Students; the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery; the Faculty of Graduate Studies; the Department of French, Italian and Hispanic Studies; the Department of Theatre and Film. Regis Michel’s visit is supported by the UBC Curatorial Lecture Series. The Series is organized by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in collaboration with the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory; the Museum of Anthropology, and the Department of Anthropology; with the support of the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies; and the Faculty of Arts at The University of British Columbia.