Call for Papers | Inside the Temporary Exhibition

Posted in Calls for Papers, graduate students by Editor on February 27, 2020

From the Call for Papers for this graduate student symposium, the full version of which includes Italian and French versions, via ArtHist.net:

Inside the Exhibition: Temporalità, Dispositivo e Narrazione
Swiss Institute and Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte (Palazzo Venezia), Rome, 16–17 June 2020

Proposals due by 19 April 2020

Now more than ever, temporary art exhibitions saturate museum spaces worldwide, shaping the discourse between public institutions and academia, and implicating an ever-growing and ever-changing international audience. The eighth doctoral study day organised by RAHN intends to reflect on the research opportunities afforded by the temporary display of artworks, from the early modern period to present day (15th–21st century).

In this wide time frame, temporary exhibitions have acquired multifarious meanings, shaping art-historical discourse. For example, the first public displays of paintings organised in the pronaos of the Pantheon, or in the cloisters of Roman churches for the festivals of patron saints, were tied to the religious context in which they took place. However, these displays were also key in the development of another ‘cult’, that of the artist, favouring the commercial interests of private collectors or of ante litteram curators, such as Giuseppe Ghezzi (1634–1721). With the formation of modern states, public exhibitions’ narratives were informed by different ideological programmes, which were inspired by, and in turn influenced contemporary art-historical debate. In this light, the temporary display of artworks offers an insight into the exhibition’s producing culture itself, and a unique opportunity for research.

The study day intends to focus on the ephemerality of art exhibitions, following a diachronic and interdisciplinary methodological approach inspired by Francis Haskell’s pioneering work on the subject (2000). When an artwork is put on display, its physical shift corresponds to a process of intellectual de- and re-contextualisation, through which the object acquires new meaning(s), imparted by the other objects with which it is put in dialogue, the space in which it is placed, and its audiences. With this in mind, we invite applicants to consider the following questions:

What affects such processes of de- and re-contextualisation? What happens when an art work is placed on temporary display? How does this influence the intellectual discourse surrounding the object and / or the exhibition? What interests are at stake in the organisation of artistic displays? What are their audiences, intended message and reception?

We welcome papers engaging with such questions, including, but not limited to the following contexts:
• the origins of art exhibitions and their cultural context (public, private, religious, secular, etc.)
• the artwork, its display, and fruition in the museum space
• the relationship between artistic historiography and exhibitions
• the art market: galleries, art fairs, and their exhibition spaces
• reception and critical discourses, the exhibition’s audiences and ‘verbal contexts’ (Pomian, 1986)

The application is open to doctoral students in the history of art and architecture enrolled in Italian and international institutions. We welcome 20-minute long papers focusing on methodological questions through a specific case study or proposing a theoretical approach to the subject. The proposals can be submitted in Italian, English, or French. To apply, please send a 250-word abstract and a 1-page academic CV by 19 April 2020 to the organisers: giornatadottorale.rahn@gmail.com.

Essential Bibliography
• Francis Haskell, The Ephemeral Museum: Old Master Paintings and the Rise of the Art Exhibition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
• Krzysztof Pomian, “Pour une histoire des semiophores. À propos des vases des Médicis,” Le Genre humain 14 (1986): 17–36.

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