ANN: Art and the Actuarial Imagination (San Marino, CA, 10 – 11 Apr 2020

Aetna Insurance Co of Hartford Conn. J. Ottman Lithographic Company, 1887. 
Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History.
The Huntington Library.

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, 10-11 April, 2020

Insurance now plays pivotal roles in the construction, exhibition, and value of contemporary art and architecture. This two-day conference, April 10-11, brings together interdisciplinary scholars to examine how insurance has constructed and inflected the civic, economic, and moral life of art and architecture from the early modern period to the present.

Avigail Moss (University of Southern California)
Matthew Hunter (McGill University)

Registration is $25, with an optional buffet lunch each day for $20. Conference registration is $10 for current Huntington docents, and free for current Long-Term Fellows and students with a current Student I.D. Please bring your current I.D. to event day check-in. Students, please note school affiliation after your name when registering.
Rothenberg Hall

Conference Schedule


8:30 a.m. – Registration & Coffee

9:30 a.m. – Welcome: Steve Hindle (The Huntington)
Remarks: Avigail Moss (University of Southern California) and Matthew Hunter (McGill University)
Art and the Actuarial Imagination: Propositions

10 a.m. – Session 1: The Artist as Actuary
Moderator: James Glisson (Santa Barbara Museum of Art)

Sophie Cras (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Art, Insurance and Post-Statistics Politics

Melanie Gilligan (Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm)
Films About Social Systems: Depicting Contingency

12 p.m. – Lunch

1 p.m. – Session 2: Incorporating Liability
Moderator: Matthew Hunter (McGill University)

Nina Dubin (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Eros, Inc.: Cupid, Corporate Form, and the Crash of 1720

Avigail Moss (University of Southern California)
Ars Longa, Vita Brevis: The Fine Art & General Insurance Company, Ltd.

3 p.m. – Break

3:15 p.m. – Session 3: The Hedge: Landscape and Power
Moderator: Avigail Moss (University of Southern California)

Matthew Hunter (McGill University)
The Sun is God: Turner, Angerstein and Insurance

Richard Taws (University College London)
The Loss Adjuster: Charles Méryons Speculations


9 a.m. – Registration & Coffee

9:30 a.m. – Session 4: External Exposures
Moderator: Theodore Porter (University of California, Los Angeles)

Timothy Alborn (Lehman College CUNY)
Revisions of Mirzah: Death’s Trap Doors, 1711-1915

Arindam Dutta (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Money in the Material World: Speculation and Building in the Eighteenth Century

11:30 a.m. – Lunch

12:30 p.m. – Session 5: Double Indemnity
Moderator: Jennifer Greenhill (University of Southern California)

Hannah Farber (Columbia University)
Seals, Marks, and Emblems: Art as the Basis for Property Claims

Ross Barrett (Boston University)
Speculative Vision: Daniel Huntington, Land Looking, and the Panic of 1837

2:30 p.m. – Break

2:45 p.m. – Session 6: Moral Hazards
Moderator: Sophie Cras (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Oliver Wunsch (Boston College)
Pastel and the Portraiture of Risk

Marina Vishmidt (Goldsmiths, University of London)
No Sure Thing: Art, Speculative Subjectivities and Actuarial Genres

4:45 p.m. – General Reflections and Q&A
Moderator: Steve Hindle (The Huntington)
Discussants: Ross Barrett, Sophie Cras, Nina Dubin, Matthew Hunter, Avigail Moss, and Oliver Wunsch