Call for Papers: Être historien de l’art aujourd’hui

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 16, 2009

From the INHA website:

Being an Art Historian Today : An International Symposium
Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, 18-19 June 2010

Paper proposals due by 25 January 2010

Organized by THES-ARTS, association of PhD students and PhD’s in 19th- and 20th-Century Art, at the Paris-Sorbonne University

For its first anniversary in June 2010, the THES-ARTS Association will initiate a series of symposiums in order to promote the work of young art historians. As preamble THES-ARTS decided to dedicate its first symposium to today’s role of the art historian. This event will be the occasion to place ourselves in relation to this discipline and also to statue on its evolution. Being a social science, Art History cannot afford a fixed way of looking at things, but needs constant renewal by confronting itself to the evolution of its proper subject of research. While the artistic revolutions of the last decades have deeply transformed the process of creation, it has become inevitable to question the way these disruptions have, or have not changed the thoughts and researches of the art historian, as well as the applications of his work. This symposium will be organized around three main problematics, which will question the rearrangement of traditional settings in which Art History is born.

New Researching Tools / New Art Forms / New Art Histories?

In the last few years, the new materialities of the work as the new researching tools have reinvented the approach and the speech of the art historian. Through the artistic experimentations, which have emerged at the dawn of the twentieth century, the materiality of the work has changed. The artist has appropriated every single element of life from the usual objects to the precious ones, from the organic to the new technologies, from tangible to the immaterial. The lack of boundaries of these raw materials has enriched the artistic vocabulary that has in its turn contributed to the evolution of the art historian’s theoretical vocabulary. The art historian’s work has been revitalized by the creation of innovative tools, which brought him to reconsider his approach towards new and old works. Thanks to technology and especially to computer science, many tools are now accessible to the researcher. Databases have been created, museums have digitized their collections and archives are now widely available by remote access. Is travelling and facing the original works getting superfluous? This symposium will be the occasion to study how art historians reinvent their way of researching and their speech when faced with these new stakes.

Art History Today: In Search of Critical Detachment

The renewal of the work materiality and the methodology of the art historian raise the question of the detachment he uses to understand the works of his time. Constantly assailed by requests to give his point of view in the various medias, isn’t he playing both roles, the one of critics and of scientifics? His ability to expertise gives him a specific legitimacy to express his judgments of taste. But at the same time, he might try to find his place amongst writers, journalists or even philosophers? Is this mediatic shift shattering the theoretical foundations of Art History? Some studies will have to answer these questions by recounting the epistemological continuities and discontinuities which characterize Art History and by analyzing how the past’s Art History influences today’s Art History.

Art History as Applied Art

From the library to the museum via the gallery, the art historian has to face different scopes of application that turned his knowledge into a “savoir-faire” making sense in its interaction with other subjects and jobs. Through this gathering of knowledge which has also nourished other theories, doesn’t the art historian appear as much as a scientific and a professional of conservation and circulation of cultural inheritance? From these three problematics, transverse studies will contribute to improve the thought. Thus, while questions have appeared in recent years concerning the survival of Art History (in the works of Hervé Fischer and Hans Belting, for example), this upcoming symposium will remind us how the art historian has always been able to invent a totally new methodology, a new approach of art, metamorphosing his fields of thinking and his areas of applications, as he was carried by the creative impetus of art.

Abstracts — in French or English — should not be more than 500 words. Please submit the abstract and a short CV, before the 25th January 2010 to: thesarts.sorbonne@gmail.com. Replies will be sent at the end of January 2010. For the participants, the costs of travel and lodging will be paid for in full or in part. Articles will be published after the conference on the THES-ARTS website.


The French artist and philosopher Hervé Fischer symbolically cut the the string of linear Art History on 15 February 1979 during a performance in the Centre Pompidou Museum. He is also the author of the essay L’histoire de l’art est terminée published in 1981. The German art historian Hans Belting continues Fischer’s reflections in 1983, in L’histoire de l’art est-elle finie?

Old Masters at Bonham’s

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 16, 2009

As noted at Artdaily.org, sales were strong at Bonham’s Old Masters auction (9 December 2009). A press release from the London auction house outlines the highlights, which included François Boucher’s Les Caresses Dangereuses and a pair of paintings by Johannes Christianus Roedig that established a record price for the artist. The following details for each lot come from Bonham’s website:

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Lot #62 — François Boucher, Les Caresses Dangeureuses
oil on canvas, 80 x 64.5cm (31 1/2 x 25 3/8in)
Sold for £228,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium [pre-sale estimate: £80,000-120,000]

Provenance: Laborde de Méréville sale, Christie’s, London, 6-7 March 1801, Day, lot 14, as A Lady with a Cat by Boucher (bought by Parry for £3.5.0 d.); Mrs Orme Wilson, New York; Her posthumous sale, Parke-Bernet, 25-26 March, 1949, 2nd day, lot 366 (as Attributed to François Boucher and identifying the woman as the wife of the painter [Charles-Antoine] Coypel); Purchased by Mrs Lewis Latham Clark, and thence by descent to the present owner.

Literature: Hermann Voss, “François Boucher’s Early Development,” The Burlington Magazine, March 1953, fig. 69; Alexander Ananoff, François Boucher (Lausanne and Paris, 1976), Vol. I, p. 213, no. 80/2 and fig. 351 (described as a pastel); Pierrette Jean-Richard, L’Oeuvre gravé de François Boucher (Paris, 1978), p.336, implying that it was the work engraved by Joseph de Longeuil, and saying that: “the clumsy treatment of the cat indicates a production of [Boucher’s] youth.”

We are grateful to Alastair Laing for confirming on first hand inspection that the present painting is an autograph work by François Boucher. The composition probably dates from circa 1730/1732 and relates to Longeuil’s engraving, Les caresses dangereuses (see fig. 1), which, owing to certain differences of detail, was most likely based on a later, now lost, version of the subject. In it, Boucher picks up the main motif of a picture that he had painted in a number of versions before he went to Italy, known as La Surprise (cf. exh. cat. Boucher, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Grand Palais, Paris, 1986-87, no. 2).

The engraving was accompanied by the following verse by Moraine:

Quoique ce Chat, belle Iris, vous caresse,
Défiez-vous toujours de sa patte traitresse:
Il ressemble fort à l’Amour,
Qui flatte, et dans l’instant v[ou]s joue un mauvais tour

For further details, click here»

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Lot #81 — Johannes Christianus Roedig, (L) Tulips, roses and other flowers in a classical urn overturned by a cat chasing a mouse with a statue of Flora beyond and (R) Peaches, grapes, pumpkins, a lemon, a pomegranate and other fruit and flowers in a wicker basket on a marble plinth, with a classical urn beyond, both signed and dated ‘C Roedig/1779’ (lower right, in brick and lower left, on stone), a pair, oil on panel, 73 x 57.5cm (28 3/4 x 22 5/8in)

Sold for £1,196,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium [pre-sale estimate: £700,000-900,000]

Provenance: Sale, Pieter Lyonet, Amsterdam (Bunel and Yver) 11 April, 1791, nos. 217 and 218; Sale, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vinkeles) 7 May, 1804, no. 145; Sale, Wreesman, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vries) 11 April, 1816, no. 154; Private Collection, the Netherlands, circa 1820 and thence by descent until circa 1970; Collection of Miss Wurfbain, Wassenaar, 1983; With Kunsthandel Hoogsteder and Hoogsteder, 1987, whence acquired by the present owner.

Exhibitions: Amsterdam, 1970, Boeket in Willet, no. 26 (only floral still life); De Boer, Amsterdam and Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick, 1983, De vrucht van het verleden, nos. 70-71

Literature: S. Segal, cat. Boeket in Willet, Amsterdam, 1970, no. 26, ill; S. Segal, cat. A Fruitful Past, Amsterdam and Brunswick, 1983, pp. 86-87, nos. 70-71, ill.

It is quite exceptional for examples of this artist’s work of such outstanding quality to appear on the market. Fred Meijer has interestingly pointed out that Roedig must have produced various levels of quality in his oeuvre to cater for a varying clientele. As well as producing individual works of very high quality, such as the present pair, Roedig appears to have produced deliberate fakes (bearing signatures) of such artist as Paul-Thedore van Brussel and Jan Davidsz. de Heem, in which his hand is clearly recognisable. From correspondence between Roedig’s son and the nineteenth century art historian, Adriaen van der Willigen, we know that the artist sold a large number of his works to Russia during his lifetime, which explains why hardly any, let alone his outstanding works, remained in his native Holland. For example, in 1783, the Russian Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov, a confidant of Catherine II, bought two paintings by the artist and gave these to the connoisseur empress. The present pair of paintings thus provide a unique opportunity of acquiring examples of Roedig’s work of this calibre. It is also remarkable that this pair of paintings have remained together since they were painted and that their provenance can be traced back to shortly after their creation in 1791. . . .

For the full entry, click here»

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