About the Conference


You have reached the temporary home of the Italian Renaissance Sculpture Conference, colloquially known as the Provo/Athens Conference, after the first two hosting cities.  This is a quadrennial conference that began as Studies in Quattrocento Sculpture and has now broadened its scope to include studies in the preceding and subsequent centuries. 

Participation in the conference has become more numerous and more international over time, and all scholars interested in the subject are invited to participate either as speaker, discussant or observer. The upcoming conference (2008) will be hosted in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by Lawrence, Kansas (2012) and Fort Worth, Texas (2016).  Please click on the provided links for more information on past and future conferences.

Overview of the First Provo/Athens Sculpture Conference

By Steve Bule

Following my PhD studies at Ohio State University, I took a job at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, in 1984. The isolation in such a tranquil place was difficult at first—I was far from a large city, far from a serious art collection, and far from other Renaissance scholars. I was reminded of this isolation when I presented a paper at the 1985 CAA meeting in Los Angeles. Bringing scholars to me for an art history conference made sense and was important for my intellectual survival.

As 1988 marked the fifth centenary of the death of Verrocchio, I thought it the ideal theme for a conference. A fortuitous jet trip west with Eric Apfelstadt from the 1987 CAA meeting in Boston helped clarify the preliminary ideas I had about organizing such a conference. With the help and encouragement of many colleagues, and after several months of preparation, a three-day conference on Verrocchio and Renaissance sculpture was held at Brigham Young University, in April 1988. Thirty American scholars, representing a variety of ages, academic ranks, research interests, and stages of professional development, attended the conference. Their enthusiasm, genuine fellowship, and intense scholarly exchange within the peaceful environs of Utah’s Rocky Mountains helped create a unique, enriching, and uplifting experience. The acts of the inaugural conference, and those of a Verrocchio conference held at I Tatti in June 1989, were published in Verrocchio and Late Quattrocento Italian Sculpture (Florence: Le Lettere, 1992).

At the closing dinner held at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, which featured a lively presentation by Timothy Verdon, it was agreed that another conference should be planned for the future. From that energy, the “Provo” Sculpture Conference was born. Conferences were held at BYU in 1992 and 1996. In 2000, the conference was moved to Athens, Georgia, with Shelley Zuraw serving as organizer. The fifth incarnation of the conference was hosted by Shelley in 2004.