"Royal Occasion: Velázquez' Las Meninas and the Power of Painting"
Prof. Jérémie Koering
Professeur ordinaire en histoire de l'art des Temps Modernes
Université de Fribourg / Universität Freiburg
Velázquez's Las Meninas is undoubtedly one of the most discussed paintings in history. Countless books, articles, visual glosses, performances and novels have been produced by art historians, artists, philosophers, novelists and film-makers, each trying in their own way to unravel the "mysteries" of this work. So why revisit a painting about which so much has already been said? Perhaps because, in its own pictorial and figurative economy, there is something that invites us to keep coming back to it. The aim here is to highlight the concept of occasion (kairos), which Velazquez uses not only to make painting an art form capable of serving the king, but also to make the painted picture, as image and product, the transitive and reflexive instance from which the viewer (and first and foremost the King) is projected alternately into the future, present and past of the work.