Call for Papers | AAH 2014

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 7, 2013

In April of 2014 the Royal College of Art in London will host the 40th annual meeting of the Association of Art Historians (AAH). Panels will address a wide variety of themes. Here’s one example, the Museums & Exhibitions Group Annual Session (a full list is available here).

AAH Annual Conference | Challenging Conventions: Exploring Hierarchies
within the Historiography of the Fine and Decorative Arts
Royal College of Art, London, 1012 April 2014

Proposals due by 11 November 2013

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 6.14.07 PMThis session explores hierarchies within the discipline of art history, tracing the separation of the ‘fine’ and ‘decorative/applied’ arts and examining the impact of this division on the research, display and use of art objects within academic and museum contexts. Even before Kant subdivided the arts into ‘mechanical’ and ‘aesthetic’ groupings, the ‘decorative’ arts were somehow deemed lesser due to their inherent functionality, allied to base manual labour and divorced from the purity and higher appeal/role of the ‘fine’ arts. This approach was perpetuated throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and continues to influence modes
of practice to the present day.

Within this session questions may include, but are not limited to, exploring how these historiographies affect perceptions within the study of art history and the presentation of objects within museums. Have they actively shaped the way we research, collect and display objects? Have these exclusions/inclusions limited or facilitated ways of working within the discipline generally, or affected the way specific fields have been shaped more particularly? And what impact has this legacy had on contemporary practice, in modes of working, forms of display or the evolution of funding streams?

The Museums & Exhibitions Group represents a wide range of practitioners, including art historians, curators and artists/makers, from all eras and cultures, and invites a similarly wide range of responses. Papers may examine specific areas within this topic, examples of interdisciplinarity or case studies within museum/gallery or academic contexts.

Please send proposals (maximum 250 words) to the session convenors Dr Marika Leino, Oxford Brookes University mleino@brookes.ac.uk and Marie-Therese Mayne, Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums marie-therese.mayne@twmuseums.org.uk by 11th November 2013.

Re-Released Title | American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840

Posted in books by Editor on October 7, 2013

While the book appeared in hardback in 2005, a paperback edition (priced extraordinarily enough at just $22) was published earlier this year by the University of Oklahoma Press:

Stephanie Pratt, American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-00806142005, $22.

9780806142005_p0_v1_s260x420Ask anyone the world over to identify a figure in buckskins with a feather bonnet, and the answer will be “Indian.” Many works of art produced by non-Native artists have reflected such a limited viewpoint. In American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840, Stephanie Pratt explores for the first time an artistic tradition that avoided simplification and that instead portrayed Native peoples in a surprisingly complex light.

During the eighteenth century, the British allied themselves with Indian tribes to counter the American colonial rebellion. In response, British artists produced a large volume of work focusing on American Indians. Although these works depicted their subjects as either noble or ignoble savages, they also represented Indians as active participants in contemporary society.

Pratt places artistic works in historical context and traces a movement away from abstraction, where Indians were symbols rather than actual people, to representational art, which portrayed Indians as actors on the colonial stage. But Pratt also argues that to view these images as mere illustrations of historical events or individuals would be reductive. As works of art they contain formal characteristics and ideological content that diminish their documentary value.

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