Progress Report on the New Berliner Stadtschloss

Posted in museums by Editor on June 16, 2015


Belvedere © Berlin Palace–Humboldtforum Foundation /
Franco Stella

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As reported this past weekend by AFP (via ArtDaily). . .

The German capital celebrated a milestone Friday [12 June 2015] in the rebuilding of its Prussian-era royal palace that is set to house a world history museum billed as the country’s top cultural project. From 2019 the ‘Berliner Stadtschloss’ or Berlin City Palace replica will be the home of the Humboldt Forum global collection, to be curated by the British Museum’s outgoing chief Neil MacGregor, dubbed the “pop star of the museum world” by local media. On Friday, government ministers and culture officials met at what is now a raw concrete and steel structure for the so-called topping-out ceremony that marks the end of the major structural work which started two years ago. MacGregor, who was reportedly hand-picked for the job by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hopes to “tell the story of humanity” with artefacts from Berlin’s many rich collections, ranging from European antiquity to East Asian arts.

The 590-million-euro ($660 million) domed venue is a reconstruction of a historical jewel of Baroque architecture located on the city’s Unter den Linden boulevard, near the Protestant Berlin Cathedral and Humboldt University. The original palace was badly damaged in World War II and its remains blown up by East Germany’s communist regime, which replaced it with its 1970s Palace of the Republic, a giant block with orange tinted windows that housed its assembly and a cultural and recreation centre.  After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany reunited the following year, bitter debate long raged about whether to keep the communist monument or raze it to rebuild Berlin’s original palace—with the latter option approved by the German parliament in 2007.

The replica, designed by Italian architect Franco Stella, will now be fitted on three sides with baroque sandstone facades recalling the old Hohenzollern palace built between the 15th and 18th centuries, and a fourth modern front facing the Spree River. The Humboldt Forum will house artefacts from Berlin’s Ethnological Museum, Asian Art Museum as well as Humboldt University, libraries and cultural centres. . . .

The full article is available here»

Call for Papers | AAH at the University of Edinburgh, 2016

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 16, 2015

By my quick count, 9 of the 34 sessions proposed for the Association of Art Historians 2016 conference could include eighteenth-century papers. Be sure to consult the conference website for things I’ve overlooked.CH

42nd Annual AAH Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh, 7–9 April 2016

Proposals due by 9 November 2015

AAH2016 will highlight the diversity, scope and importance of art-historical research and its application today. AAH2016 will engage with current art historical scholarship in exciting and innovative ways, across a range of periods, locations, and media. Academic Sessions will cross disciplinary boundaries. They will, for instance, explore relationships between the visual and the textual, between fashion and art history, between art and architecture, between art and economics, or between art and science. Other sessions will highlight issues of time and periodisation, exploring revivalism, re-enactment, and extinction. Or highlight advancing technologies and media, including video games and cybernetics. AAH 2016 also presents an opportunity to reflect on nationalism and its conflicts and contradictions in the past and present, as well as opening the discipline of art history up to broader audiences.

If you would like to offer a paper, please email the session convenor(s) direct, providing an abstract of a proposed paper of 30 minutes. Abstracts to be no more than 250 words, and to include your name and institution affiliation (if any). Download a Paper Proposal Guidelines here.

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Session 1 | Air and the Visual
Convenor: Amanda Sciampacone, Birkbeck, University of London, asciampacone@gmail.com

‘The air is unique among the elements in having this affinity with nothingness, in signifying the being of non-being, the matter of the immaterial’ (Steven Connor, The Matter of Air, 31).

The materiality of the air has long been at the forefront of our cultural and visual imaginary. Air has variously been associated with life and death, purity and pollution, circulation and stagnation. It is a thing that moves and flows across space and time. It is also a site of transmission, a force that conveys both the tangible and intangible. From vapours, microbes, and particulates to signals, sounds, and images, the air is heavy with matter and meaning. Air is an element that can produce, elude, and be captured by the visual.

Following Connor, this session seeks to investigate the relationship between air and representation, and to address issues of the visible in the invisible and the material in the immaterial. How has air, or its vacuum, been visualised in art? How do images of the air, and their very dissemination, highlight particular meanings and connections? How do new optical technologies, modes of visual reproduction, and methods of investigation allow people to study and depict the air? This session invites papers from across historical periods and media that engage with the visual, material, and metaphorical forms of air. Papers that explore the theme through a cross-disciplinary approach—for instance, linking art history to environmental studies, the history of science and medicine, or art theory and practice—are especially welcome.

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Session 4 | Art History Matters: Research and Writing as Material Practice
Convenors: Jennifer Walden, University of Portsmouth, jenny.walden@port.ac.uk; Veronica Davies, The Open University and Chair of Freelance & Independents’ Special Interest Group

Following the critique of art history as an ideological project, with the political urgency of the Marxist, feminist and postcolonial interventions in the latter 1970s and 1980s and later philosophical discursive turns, there comes a reawakening of the discipline’s work as itself material, to be understood in terms of its own affective force.

This is evidenced by a desire to foreground, often alongside practitioners, ‘creative’ art history practice, stretching the weave of its texts, expressing and performing encounters with its objects (see Art History Special Issue 34/2/April 2011 Creative Writing and Art History and Courtauld Art History Research Students’ Group: Performing Art History events 2010/11) or to reveal the tension between a discourse of ‘images’ and stubborn/elusive material objects (see Art History Special Issue 36/3/June 2013 The Clever Object) and by a (re) casting of art historical work in the wake of a turn to a new materialism, twisting from an emphasis on (de)constructivist characteristics towards the material emergence of its knowledge and affect. This is also provoked by the insistence coming from the practices of making art that there is an embodied material practice at stake as a form of knowledge which a hitherto preoccupation with signification and representation may not fully grasp.

This session will explore how art historical research and writing has worked and presently works as material practice. Papers are welcome which critically examine examples pushing the discipline’s methodological boundaries with materialist and creative urgencies, as contributions to these understandings of art historical mattering.

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Session 12 | From Antique Craft to Modern Ideology: Mosaics as Public Art
Convenor: Antonio David Fiore, The Open University, antodavidfiore@gmail.com

Mosaic, because of its close relationship with architecture, has always been an ideal vehicle for the symbolically and ideologically charged art to be found on the walls of public and religious buildings. Nevertheless, after the celebrated achievements of Antique masters, neglect seems to follow. Yet, the calling of Giovanni Belloni (1772–1863) to set up a national Mosaic School in post-revolutionary France in 1798, the decoration of Westminster Palace in London (1922; 1926) and Foro Mussolini in Rome (1931–38), Ben Shahn’s Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1967, Syracuse, USA) are but a few, deliberately disparate, examples of a modern renaissance.

More than other techniques of architectural decoration, such as fresco and sculpture, mosaic reflected ambiguities and uncertainties of a practice constantly suspended between experimentation and revival. Challenges included: the separation between designer and craftsman, the impact of new materials and semi-industrial practices such as the indirect method, and the relationship with the Antique traditions. For example, late Roman and Byzantine mosaics, with their anti-perspective and anti-naturalistic approach, were often referenced by modern artists when asked to justify their position theoretically. However, the varieties of motives and forms used in practice were often unorthodox.

This panel aims to highlight questions of relationship between artists and artisans, iconography, technique and materials, relationship with the architectural space, patronage, and reception. How do we inscribe mosaics into a socially engaged art history? Papers are invited that situate mosaic of any period as works of art that conjure up dialogue between tradition, revival, and renewal.

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Session 16 |  Iteration
Convenor: Robin Schuldenfrei, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Robin.Schuldenfrei@courtauld.ac.uk

This session will consider the ways in which multiple stages, phases, or periods in an artistic or design process have served to arrive at the final artefact, with a focus on the meaning and use of the iteration, over the end result. In examining iteration this session seeks to explore ways of theorising ideas surrounding series of objects, whether the original, the interim object, the design proposal, or the copy, vis-à-vis antecedents and successive exemplars. This session asks how a closer look at iterations of a single object-type—whether art, architecture, book or media-object—might reveal new insight into the production of objects and the production of thought alike.

The palimpsestic qualities of the artistic or architectural sketchbook, as well as practices of urban renewal and urban design, represent one kind of iteration. New, often more numerous editions of earlier works, such as the plaster casts of Louise Bourgeois re-released in bronze, or the multiples of Joseph Beuys, are another example of this phenomenon. The relationship of works in a series to an inaccessible ‘original’ is also germane to discussions of iteration—especially when not executed by the artist’s own hand, such as copies of Renaissance studio painting, or in the use of reproductive media such as Andy Warhol’s silk screens executed by assistants, as well as the copy in its many forms. Iteration can have political implications, especially in the built environment, when a predecessor’s physical manifestations are over-written by that of the successor or a victorious nation. There is the potential to highlight the latent instability of art and architectural objects in instances of a lack of a single, identifiable original artefact or trajectory. Yet, in the case of lost or mysterious objects, what is not known might be as useful as what is known, as it allows successive cultures to ascribe new significance—or speculation—to these works, offering further cultural understanding. And how might a Derridian rethinking of iteration be helpful in contemplating a shift in emphasis from the subject to the object’s own agency in an iterability that is both a repetition and a differing?

From a range of perspectives, this session seeks to look broadly at meaning and insight offered by the iteration, the multiple, and the design process, for historical research and its methods. Particularly desired are papers considering theoretical formulations of iteration, in addition to historical case studies, from any period in art, architecture, and urban planning.

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Session 24 | Sculpture and the Decorative
Convenors: Claire Jones, Independent, jones.claire@gmail.com; and Imogen Hart, University of California, Berkeley, imogenhart@berkeley.edu

The history of sculpture has largely been written with an emphasis on free-standing, monumental, figurative, single-authored works created by named sculptors, primarily in bronze, marble and plaster. Decorative arts scholarship has been predominantly concerned with works created by named manufacturers, and with the impact of industrialisation on craft and related issues around mass production, taste, labour and commerce. Yet cross-fertilisations between sculpture and the decorative have played a vital role in the formal practices and aesthetics of art production, bringing sculptors into contact with diverse makers, materials, techniques, forms, colours, ornament, scales, styles, patrons, audiences and subject matter, to produce composite, multi-material, quasi-functional and multi-authored objects.

This session will explore the decorative as a historically fertile, parallel and contested field of sculptural production. We invite proposals that address affinities between sculpture and the decorative in any culture or period from the Middle Ages to the present day, and which explore the cross-disciplinary connections between the institutional, biographical, conceptual, visual, material and professional histories of the two fields. Topics might include artistic autonomy and creativity; the fragment and the composite work; figuration and relief; the hierarchy of the arts; copyright and authorship; originality and reproduction; and the languages and histories of making and materials. We also welcome papers that examine sculpture and the decorative in relation to the racialization, nationalisation and gendering of the practices of art, craft and manufacturing.

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Session 26 | Style as History: Self-reflective Moments in Drawing
Convenors: Amy Concannon, Tate Britain, amy.concannon@tate.org.uk; and Iris Wien, Institut für Kunstwissenschaften und Historische Urbanistik, Technical University Berlin, iris.wien@tu-berlin.de

Since the Renaissance drawings have been inextricably linked with their authors. Drawings were thought to embody in a seemingly direct and unmediated way the artist’s pictorial thinking. They were understood as both traces of the process of artistic creation and highly idiosyncratic demonstrations of the manipulation of line, form and texture. More recently, increased attention has been paid to drawing as a discipline replete with its own tacit conventions and handed-down formulae that not only guides the learner in the acquisition of a certain facility and skill but also reveals the collective aspect of the art as a system of rule-bound notations. Concurrent with the efforts of academies to promote drawing as a universal visual language, the drawing collections of the 16th and 17th centuries and more particularly the great 18th-century cabinets, along with the ensuing publications by renowned collectors and connoisseurs, fostered an historical understanding of this art.

This session explores how artists across Europe have dealt with these developments. How have they reacted to different conceptions of stylistic formation when developing their own manner of drawing or engaging with drawing styles of the past? What kind of role has the recourse to—or rejection of—past traditions of drawing played in the construction of artists’ identities and their self-positioning within the competitive arena of contemporary draughtsmanship? This session invites papers that examine how the historicity of form is reflected in drawings from the early modern period to the present day.

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Session 27 | The (After) Lives of Things: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Material Culture
Convenors: Sarah Laurenson, University of Edinburgh, sarah.laurenson@ed.ac.uk; and Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh, f.l.gowrley@gmail.com

Material things have been used to fashion identities and form social relationships throughout history. This panel seeks to shed light on the intersecting histories of materiality and process in the production and consumption of material culture. It invites papers that examine how physical and intellectual practices such as collecting, repurposing and remaking conveyed materially embedded messages about the subjective experience of their owner-makers, as well as the period in which they were undertaken more broadly. Such practices performed not only physical but semantic changes upon these objects which, due to their revised contexts, reciprocally enacted changes upon their possessors. Examining how these processes allowed individuals to construct identities, spaces, and social bonds, this panel will address issues central to the ‘material turn’ that has characterised recent scholarship within the humanities and, in particular, that of art history.

Papers concerning all geographical areas and time periods—from the beginning of human history to the present day—are welcome. Potential topics could include, but are not limited to
• object biographies
• construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction
• adaptation and alteration
• quotation and pastiche, bricollage and photomontage
• movement: mobility, translation, and geographical transformation
• composite forms of artistic production: quilting, shell/feather/paper-work, collaging
• affective, familial, and emotional objects
• modes of acquisition: collection, found objects, inheritance, and gift exchange
• the relationship between mass production and personal identity

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Session 28 | The Artist as Historian
Convenors: James J Bloom, Centre College, james.bloom@centre.edu; and Amy Reed Frederick, Centre College, amy.frederick@centre.edu

This session seeks to examine the scope and range of artistic activities that can be construed as historical enterprise. Although history is conventionally understood as the product of scholarly discourse, we invite papers that recognise in the historical engagements of artists the possibility of an alternative model of history making. To cite just a few examples, Jan van Scorel, Keeper of the Vatican Antiquities and celebrated 16th-century painter in his own right, was perhaps the first of many artists to have restored the Ghent Altarpiece (though his historicising efforts in both capacities have been broadly ignored); William Morris reportedly pursued extensive research into the production of medieval manuscripts (an historical exercise that has been dismissed as medievalist fantasy); and while it is well known that Pablo Picasso reproduced techniques and motifs won from the study of Rembrandt’s etchings, Picasso’s attentions have not been assessed for their historicist implications. While obviously different from traditional scholarly understandings of historical representation, can we yet discern or distinguish a discrete critical value in such explorations?

We welcome studies that identify instances from any historical moment or cultural geography in which artists and architects explicitly set themselves the task of excavating the past. These might include—but are not limited to—architectural reconstructions, pictorial or sculptural restorations, and explorations of facture (copying, forgery, appropriation) that are self-consciously historicising. Ultimately, we hope to collectively consider how an examination of artists’ conceptions of historical representation might affect our understanding of history itself.

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Session 33 | The Place of Fashion Studies in Academia
Convenors: Alessandro Bucci, The University of Edinburgh, a.g.bucci@sms.ed.ac.uk; and Chiara Faggella, Stockholm University, chiara.faggella@ims.su.se

Fashion Studies is a field of knowledge with deep historical roots within History of Art. However, as apparently disparate approaches flank the traditional historiographies of dress, its placement in scholarly settings is, today more than ever, up for discussion. Still innovating, even if Fashion Studies has been an academic topic for more than 30 years now, academics often feel the need to deconstruct disciplinary boundaries within this wide research area. While understanding fashion as a meaningful system within which the production of the cultural and aesthetic representations of the body is made possible, research in Fashion Studies all over the world is undertaken from different perspectives in diverse university departments, including History of Art, Media Studies, Design, Literature, and Cultural Studies. Thus, university programmes in Fashion Studies enrich their unique profiles alongside academic traditions connected to their own institutions, yet the global amount of graduates in this field undoubtedly shares a mutual ground. We believe that the interdisciplinarity of Fashion Studies is an advantage to all individuals and institutions involved. This panel aims to be an occasion to discuss what we have in common as scholars, our independent goals as researchers and our outlook on the future as educators. Therefore, we welcome contributions that highlight the copious nuances that can be explored within Fashion Studies, including, but not limited to
• collaborations between educational institutions and the fashion industry
• higher-education programs combining Fashion Design and Fashion Studies
• academic journals specialising in Fashion; the predominance of English-speaking contributions within Fashion academia
• pedagogical field research conducted within Fashion Studies programs
• the role of Fashion Studies in museums or heritage institutions
• historical trends in researching Fashion Studies among and across disciplines.

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