Contesting French aesthetics of space and Nature enjoyment in Moroccan Travel writing in the 19th century
Ahmed Idrissi Alami, Assistant Professor, Arabic Program Director, Purdue University, USA
During the 19th century, many Moroccan travelers to Europe observed facets of western modernity in terms of spatial organization and management of public spaces, many of which were unfamiliar and different from their indigenous models. Examples include controlled environments presented in urban spaces of Paris and London, and others appeared in the city’s environs, in the gardens, roads, and wayside inns of the countryside. In their travel writings, Moroccan visitors described their engagement with European artistic designs and aesthetic values through comments, at times admitting and at others critical, in which they compare what they see with experiences from their own native cultures. These observations involve not only awareness of and appreciation for elements of design, color, and use of various plants, but also suggest how the two cultures express sometimes contrasting values concerning how men control and interact with their environments. In this paper, I analyze the discourse and rhetoric about the enjoyment of nature, of landscape design and of aesthetics as explored in the travel writing of the Moroccan traveler al-‘Amrāwī in his travelogue Tuḥfat al-Malik al-ʿAzīz bimamlakat Bārīz, written in the 19th century. Here we see significant engagement between the periphery and the center, from outlying ‘pre-modern’ cultures to the Western epicenter of culture and modernity. In this work, the writer first argues for the necessity of interaction between people and their environments, interactions he sees lacking in France. Second, he comments on the domestication of nature through his analysis of the zoological gardens of Paris; and last, he comments on the tension between interior and exterior spaces as sources of enjoyment for the country’s citizenry. Overall, al-‘Amrāwī dynamically engages the ‘other’ by bringing native values into the debate. His contemplation of the French scenery inaugurates such movement in which the aesthetics of French space design and French landscaping are contested and juxtaposed with the behavior of its people. Through this analysis, we see alternative ways of viewing Western aesthetics while gaining insight into how European hegemony was contested by foreign visitors from Morocco even as colonial incursions, and the prominence of Western viewpoints, increased across North Africa and the Middle East.
By Whose Rules? Contemporary Art and Geography of Art Historic Significance
Anna W. Brzyski, Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA
Art history as a discipline implicated in the discourse on contemporary art faces a serious problem. Although it has been attempting for some time to come to terms with the radical realignment of art geography, it remains institutionally committed not only within the so-called West (a geographic term that in and of itself has become problematic), but also throughout the world to a narrative approach that is fundamentally incompatible with the requirements of the new global reality. At best, art history’s narrative habits take the form of a story of art’s historic development that is still very much Eurocentric, at worse they are an implicit ideological argument for the ultimate superiority of Western culture.
The dominance of the narrative approach to art history makes it virtually impossible to reflect on the global diversity of cultural practices without falling back on the ‘separate but equal’ approach, which deals with the issue of incommensurable by either identifying entirely ‘different’ local, national or regional traditions, or substituting singular forms (for example modernism) with plural ones (modernisms). In dealing with contemporary art, the situation is somewhat different. Here artists from the non-western areas are actively sought and rewarded for using their ‘local dialect’ within the confines of increasingly homogenized art practice. The more exotic the better, provided that their works plays by certain rules, that is, they are clearly recognizable as contemporary art. Those rules are not established locally, but are negotiated within the transnational networks of exhibitions, publications, institutions and art markets. Only those artists whose works are recognized by those networks, thus becoming subject of monographs, articles, exhibitions, etc., enter collections of major art museums and become objects of art history; in other words, only they can claim historic significance. Other form of art practice that do not fit this bill (no matter how much they may be valued locally), are simply ignored or relegated to the obscurity of ‘area studies’ and to explorations of the local ‘visual culture.’ They become visible within to narrative art history only as cultural context or second tier ethnographic cultural production.
Needless to say, such an approach is not just reductive, it produces a false impression of the situation on the ground. Because the narrative logic tells us what significant art of the present should be, not surprisingly, we most often find what we are looking for, especially when we also extend financial rewards to those who play by the rules. This is nowhere more obvious than in the case of Chinese contemporary art, which since the turn of the millennium has become a subject of growing interest and intense market speculation. That is why it is a perfect case study for thinking not just about the limitations and unintended consequences of narrative art history, but also for seeking an alternative approach.
My paper will discuss the situation of ‘contemporary art’ in today’s post-totalitarian China in order to highlight the drawbacks of the narrative approach to art history that assumes cultural coherence and temporal synchronization. The frame of reference I will use in my analysis is not a narrative of art’s development but the specific local (and national) conditions of its production, reception and consumption, including the relationship between China and the Eastern Bloc, which cannot be ignored in any discussion of Chinese modern and contemporary art. I will argue that this approach, which I refer to as systemic, requires a different way of thinking about geographic relationships and vectors of ‘influence’ and reference. It does not presume temporal continuity or geographic unity (national character) of art, but rather sees a desire for such continuity and unity as a product of the system that emerged in Europe the late 18th century and began spread globally in the early 20th. In fact, it does not presume a priory the existence of ‘art’ (or contemporary art) as such, but rather approaches it as a culturally specific concept that may produce a variety of different outcomes that depend on the dynamics of the local, regional, and global situation at particular moments in time. It is therefore synchronically and diachronically dynamic. This approach to art history deals relationally with the full spectrum of art practices, art discourses (including the discourse of art history), art institutions, and art markets. It incorporates and acknowledges the possibility of imperfect knowledge, misinterpretation, dissonance, asymmetry, and the role of individual and collective self-interest and prejudice. Although art history written from this perspective may be significantly less heroic and coherent, and therefore not as compatible with the current art system (defined by art history’s relationship with the art market on the one hand and nationalist discourse on the other), it could become more historically honest, less ideologically based, and, perhaps, better suited to function as a truly global discourse on local, also national, cultures implicated within trans-national and global networks of institutional, cultural, and economic interactions.
Global Conceptualism? Cartographies of Conceptual Art in Pursuit of Decentering
Sophie Cras, Ph.D. Student, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
A recent trend in art historical research, most notably illustrated in the exhibition Global Conceptualism, at the Queens Museum of Art in 1999, has intended to denounce and overcome what is presented as an “occidental hegemony” over the history of conceptual art. According to these authors, one should abandon a vision structured in terms of centers and peripheries, and privilege a non-hierarchized panorama, which would emphasize conceptualist practices evenly distributed globally.
This argument is not altogether new. As early as the end of the 1960s, artists, critics and gallerists of the New York art scene were already making the claim that conceptual art, by dematerializing the art object and thus allowing for cheap production and distribution, was subverting the traditional structuration of the art world, and putting an end to the weight of “artistic capitals” so as to allow for a truly international practice. As Seth Siegelaub said in 1973, conceptual art “was probably the first artistic movement which did not have a geographic center.”
However, this notion of “decentering,” present from the beginnings of conceptual art at the end of the 1960s, and reenunciated by historians at the end of the 1990s, involves an ideological danger. By negating the dialectics between centers and peripheries, it refuses to address the geographic inequalities which actually structured the art world at the time, and largely contributed to define the different artists’ positioning, and perspectives of historical recognition.
This paper seeks to offer a new reflection on the ideal of “decentering” that lies at the heart of conceptual art. It aims at analyzing the construction of such an internationalist discourse, demonstrating that it paradoxically arose at a very specific geographic location –New York – among a number of actors reacting to peculiar historical and political conditions, and sharing a common vision of the global artistic scene. I draw upon cartography as a major tool to support this study. First, geographically mapping conceptual art from 1967 to 1972 provides a better understanding of how a vision of “international art” emerged. The description of localization logics will lead to the identification of eco-geographic dynamics, with prominent center-periphery relationships. Second, “artistic cartographies” will be considered: at the time when maps became – as well as charts, photographs or lists – a privileged medium for conceptual art, this paper argues that artists were thus confronting the contradictions of their internationalist ethos. By making maps the material of their artistic practice, they were thinking space creatively, becoming not only the constrained subjects of geographic logics, but rather voluntary actors of their personal geography.
The Duality of Multiculturalism in Germany: Between Political and Curated Expressions
Courtney Dorroll, PhD Student, University of Arizona, USA
Multiculturalism has “failed” according to much of contemporary German political rhetoric but it lives on in the signage of German museum exhibitions. This paper analyzes how the contemporary Turkish diaspora, the largest minority population in Germany, is represented and silenced in political rhetoric as well as museum exhibitions. I will explore the differences between visual representations of multiculturalism and nation-state political rhetoric regarding this issue in contemporary Germany. These conflicting messages have differing economic statuses, target audiences as well as different goals. One is meant to appear to the global citizen that frequents Berlin museums which showcase Germany as sensitive to world culture and accepting of other traditions and embracing the mandates of multiculturalism. On the other hand, the domestic, political message is constructed in a monocultural narrative surrounding the question of who belongs in the German imagined community and who does not.
This paper analyzes the hegemonic power of museums through the use Jean Baudrillard’s concept of simulacra and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital. I analyze museum objects and museum signage in Berlin’s temporary exhibit in the Humboldt Box and the permanent Ottoman collection on display in the Pergamon’s Museum of Islamic Art juxtaposed with anti-Turkish rhetoric as seen as early as the 16th century in Edward Schoen’s woodblock prints as well as political speeches that have taken place within the last five years in Germany.
To what end is multiculturalism simply “on display” in Germany? How does this positivist display mimic or oppose a lived view of multiculturalism in Germany? What role does the museum have in constructing an international, transnational ideology? How does the media undermine or stabilize curatorial viewpoints? Art historians and museum scholars often analyze the museum of the modern nation-state. Yet what must be incorporated into this discussion is the museum’s ability to include or silence minority voices.
Today the sentiments of Turks taking over Germany seem to mimic the anti-Turkic message of Schoen’s woodblock prints. Today we see the historical vestiges of anti-Turkish sentiments alongside the rhetoric of the museum curators that market to an elite class of jet-setting tourists that fit the cosmopolitan rhetoric of the Kantian vein. All the while the domestic populace is surrounded by anti-immigrant political rhetoric. How can these two veins exist in one space? They can co-exist because they market to different socio-economic spheres creating a disjuncture in curated expressions of multiculturalism and lived expressions of multiculturalism in the contemporary German nation-state, hence the duality of multiculturalism seen in Germany today.
The Geography of National Identity in Fin-de-Siecle Europe
Michelle Facos, Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
In the final decades of the nineteenth century, painters working on the periphery of Europe began producing neoromantic landscape paintings intended to foster a collective national identity and a sense of rootedness in the national geography. While little known outside the nations where it was produced, this national romantic imagery is generally viewed by scholars as a purely local phenomenon with an intracultural specificity that makes it difficult for outsiders to fully understand. Because of the intimate ties of these paintings to the articulation of national identities, scholars have tended to interpret them as manifestations of highly exclusionary, culture-specific ideas and locales. For instance, while Finland, Hungary, Norway, and Poland were pressing for political emancipation from foreign powers at the end of the nineteenth century, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland were sovereign powers. Because the cultures producing national romantic paintings represented a diverse range of political and social conditions, little attention has been paid to overarching similarities in composition, subject, and style.
At the same time, there are significant points of tangency in these national romantic landscape paintings: generally speaking, mimesis is subordinated to emotion, the expression of personal feelings, and the intimation of a universal cosmic order. The reason for this, I argue, is that these paintings express a yearning for wholeness and stability in a world undergoing seismic changes; they were aesthetic responses to a world in which alienation and ‘false consciousness’ imperiled social stability and cultural unity. For national romantics, cosmopolitanism, industrialization, and urbanization were enemies of both a cohesive society and a singular national identity because they disrupted traditional social practices and values.
My paper will sketch the contours of this broad and complex phenomenon within fin-de-siecle landscape painting and suggest that the emergence of national romantic landscape painting at the end of the nineteenth century was more than a manifestation of patriotic impulses. While the historically significant individuals, events, and landmarks pictured in these paintings functioned as emotionally-charged indices of national identity they also shared important characteristics, thereby suggesting that they were part of larger, transnational concerns.
Cosmopolitan Artists: Spanish Sculptors at the Salons of Paris 1880-1914
Clarisse Fava-Piz, Curatorial Intern, Department of Photography, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC
In the last decades of the 19th century, the Salons of Paris dominated French artistic life. A window unto contemporary art, the Salons acted as a trampoline for young artists who sought recognition and renown. The Salons’ influence extended far beyond French borders, and attracted foreign artists to come and present their works. If the history of the Salons of Paris is a field that has been well-examined in recent years, the presence of foreign artists in the Salons remains a phenomenon that has been largely left aside.
The Spanish sculptors active around the turn of the 20th century formed part of the group of artists attracted by the Parisian art scene. Neglected- if not forgotten- by the historiography of Spanish and European art, they have been the focus of new studies undertaken over the last twenty years. Between 1880, the year of the creation of the Salon des artistes français, and 1914, the year that marked the symbolic end of Paris as the world capital of art, a careful search of the catalogues turns up no less than 68 Spanish sculptors who exhibited works in the Salons.
These artists were present during a period of sculptural renaissance marked by Rodin’s retrospective at the Pavilion de l’Alma in 1900, a turning point in the history of western sculpture. Five years later, Maillol’s masterpiece La Méditerranée, exhibited in the Salon d’Automne in 1905, opened a new dimension in post-Rodinian sculpture, and influenced a generation of sculptors in Paris.
My presentation is will examine the place of Spanish sculptors in the Parisian art world, as well as the many implications of their presence in the Salons. With the aid of statistical and cartographical methods, I will explore how they assimilated into the artistic community in the French capital. Looked at from three different angles, my subject will bring into consideration methods of cultural transfers, social art history, and comparative art history.
The construction of the cosmopolitan personality of the Spanish sculptor, from their geographical origins to their artistic training, will constitute my first axis of study. The examination of the methods of cultural transfers will permit me to identify the artistic contexts of Spain, Italy, and France at the turn of the 20th century, and explore the different points of interaction among these countries.
The question of a « colony » of Spanish sculptors in Paris will then be posed. Cartographical tools will help demonstrate the dynamic nature of these artists and their movements throughout Paris between 1880 and 1914. Situated in a social study of art history at the crossroads of the micro and macro level, this study will give an overview of the 68 Spanish sculptors in question, but will also touch upon their individual differences.
The regard that the Spanish sculptors held for French sculpture will form my third and final axis of study. I will try to show how these artists, through contact with the sculptures presented at exhibitions and in museums in Paris, assimilated certain artistic characteristics that are visible in their works.
Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Paris between the Wars
Michele Greet, Associate Professor, George Mason University, USA
In the years between World War I and World War II Paris was at the center of the art world. Indeed, the very essence of twentieth-century art history stems from the movements and avant-garde experiments that emerged in Paris in the early years of the century. While numerous scholars have written about the arts in Paris during this period, none examine the participation of Latin American artists in the Parisian art scene even though these artists both contributed to and re-interpreted nearly every major modernist trend between the wars, including cubism (Pablo Curatella Manes, Emilio Pettoruti, Diego Rivera, Angel Zárraga), surrealism (Antonio Berni, Wifredo Lam, Francisco Lazo, Roberto Matta, César Moro), constructivism (Jaime Colson, Germán Cueto, Amelia Peláez, Juan del Prete, Joaquín Torres-García), and the more figural modes associated with the School of Paris. To date I have identified more than three hundred artists living and working in Paris between 1918 and 1939, staying anywhere from several months to several decades. These numbers demonstrate a critical mass that rivaled or even surpassed other groups of foreigners such as Russian Jewish artists in the School of Paris.
This talk will focus on one aspect of my larger book project entitled Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Pairs between the Wars, 1918-1939, which examines Latin American artists’ intense interaction with European artists and critics as well as their major contributions to the international art scene in Paris between the two world wars. To accompany the book, I am creating a website with a searchable database of all the artists I have identified, listing their country of origin, addresses in Paris, schools attended, group and individual exhibitions, government grants, awards and honors, and Parisian contacts, as well as timelines, maps, and images. This paper will highlight the mapping portion of the project, presenting two uses of maps in analyzing artists’ activities. On one map the residential addresses of the numerous Latin American artists living in Paris will be plotted in relation to other prominent artists residing there between the wars in order to determine possible points of convergence. An additional map will indicate the various galleries where these artists exhibited. Each gallery on the map will link to data about the gallery’s history, and lists of additional exhibitions hosted by that gallery. My hope is that other scholars will be able to employ the framework I set up to create maps of Eastern European, African, U.S. American, or Asian artists in Paris during this (or other) periods, to establish a much more comprehensive vision of artistic interchange. This paper will present an overview of the larger book project and discuss the use of maps in determining Latin American artists’ contacts, movements, and activities in Paris.
Borderlands: Mapping Early Modern Architecture in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Carolyn C. Guile, Assistant Professor, Colgate University, USA
This paper discusses aspects of the architecture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s southeastern borderland in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. It argues for the integration of mapping and GIS technologies into art historical inquiry as a means of understanding multiple forms of influence, tradition, and customs as they relate to locale; of interpreting the meaning of center and periphery; and of defining visual expression that is a product of an historically ethnically- and confessionally-mixed population. By focusing on early modern cultural fault lines between binaries of east and west, or between religious confessions at once “incompatible” and coexistent, the project asks, what is particular about the architecture in the borderlands? Do borderland conditions in particular demand alternative approaches to their analysis, and how can GIS mapping of monuments, events, concepts, and ideas facilitate our understanding in a way that narration and description alone cannot? First, the very nature of the region is its own best advocate for a new, spatio-temporal approach to its art history. The Commonwealth’s decentralization and porosity of its borders directly influenced the transmission of visual forms, and the invention of new architectural styles, imagery, and artistic practices. Its population was neither ethnically nor religiously homogenous; its customs were simultaneously reverent toward an inherited Mediterranean visual language and at odds with its exclusive embrace. “Eastern” forms and references shaped portraiture, fashion, arms and armor, sculpture, and architecture; Christian churches were converted into mosques, and mosques into churches, in the wake of conflicts and peace accords; textile production and trade, architectural decoration, and sculpture were also inflected by eastern idioms, a direct result of the Caucasian and Jewish presence and trade in the region. Forms associated with Orthodox styles in ecclesiastical architecture were the offspring of religious tolerance enshrined in law, and the creation of the Uniate church. This latter architecture, built entirely in wood, existed contemporaneously with western, particularly Italianate, forms and styles patronized by the court and arriving from Tuscany, Rome, and the Veneto – sometimes circuitously, via England and the Netherlands. These forms of contact left their mark on visual expression in the area and have direct bearing on our understanding of patterns of artistic transmission, aesthetics, intellectual history, and form that is, in essence, never static. As a contribution to the sub-discipline of “artistic geography” within art history, necessarily informed by the work of Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, the larger project from which this paper emerges focuses on how cultural affinity and the circumstance of place generate and influence the variety and nature of architecture of the region. I proceed from the position that the borderland – in Polish, “kresy,” or “outer limits” — presents particular circumstances that affect directly the tone and pace of artistic enterprise and change. GIS mapping provides alternative ways of describing forms and ideas that are simultaneous, that do not exist in isolation from one another, nor arise from a unified “nationalist” narrative. The paper will argue its main points through architectural examples drawn from the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s southern and south-eastern territories.
Exhibiting the Situationist Avant-Garde: From Archive to Map
Emmanuel Guy, Research fellow at the BnF and curator of the Guy Debord Exhibition, France
1957, Cosio d’Arroscia, in the Ligurian upcountry, Italy, eight members of various European avant-garde groups gathered and founded the Situationist International (S.I.). During the sixties, the group hold conferences in Münich, London, Göteborg, Antwerp, Paris and Venice: there, its few members would meet and drink, but also define their positions in the fields of arts, culture, and politics, and make plans to promote a “revolution of everyday life”. Over the course of the decade, most of the artists of the movement were expelled, and more politicized members replaced them – Guy Debord (1931-1994) alone remained a member of the movement from 1957 until its dissolution in 1972. Under his guidance, and despite its changing composition, the group developed a coherent strategy for the diffusion of its ideas, the control of its image and the development of its revolutionary project.
This paper will present one of the key features of the museographic material that will be presented at the Guy Debord exhibition of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in the Spring 2013: cartographic representations of Debord’s strategic thinking and practice. Guy Debord loved maps and used them in his publications and movies. In 1988, he would even write to his publisher and friend Floriana Lebovici, while commenting the upcoming edition of Henri de Jomini’s Précis de l’art de la guerre: “it is impossible to understand most of the issues of strategy withtout refering to geography”.
Taking Debord at his words, I would like to study his strategies to promote the collective adventure and revolutionary project he led. This research is based on data gathered in the Guy Debord papers of the BnF. It will examine more specifically the “internationalism” of the S.I. through cartographic means, by mapping its activities (publications, exhibitions, scandals, etc.), its outreach strategy (using the mailing list of its journal the Internationale Situationniste), and the circulation of translations and national adaptations of key situationist texts and leaflets.
Beyond its heuristic goal, this research aims at exploring what a geographic perspective might bring to the archiving and exhibiting of the avant-garde. Both activities usually share a temporal approach of their object – chronology rules over most archives and exhibitions, where spatial approaches and maps tend be rare. Considering the recurring interest of modernist avant-garde groups for maps and geography, and especially that of Guy Debord, this paper will eventually examine how cartographic thinking might address some specific issues in library sciences and curatorial studies.
Toward a Geography of the Contemporary Indian Art: Mapping Networks and Circulations From Independence Movements (1920s) Until Today.
Christine Ithurbide, PhD Student, Paris Diderot – SEDET Laboratory, France
The analysis of circulations and networks has become increasingly important in the understanding of art scenes, both at local and international levels. To what extend are they making as well as contesting national artistic territories? Transforming regional powers and cultural capitals? While emphasized in recent economical and urban theories, how can precise studies of networks and circulations contribute to the renewal of contemporary art history writing, particularly in South countries?
My researches on the geography of contemporary Indian art have been focusing on the evolution of social networks and circulations that shaped contemporary Indian art scene and spaces since the Independence movements of the 1920s. A series of original maps based on the geography of contemporary Indian art will be presented.
Particularly interested in the post-Independence urban social networks which contributed to the raise of the art market, I will be analyzing the continuity and ruptures in patronage and collectors networks. Among them, the Parsis community of Bombay played an important role in the emergence of a modern art scene. Following the progressive economic liberalization of the country from the 1980s onward, Indian upper middle class and transnational actors initiated new spaces and economy of art both at a national and international level. Indian diaspora (NRIs) largely fostered the Indian art market abroad. How did those artistic and economic networks, developed in the context of fast growing cities, enable a new geography of art in India ?
Whether early 20th century and post-Independence period were crucial rising the question of nationalism and regionalism in contemporary Indian visual arts, the country was also progressively elaborating new relationships with the art world system. From the 1922 exhibition in Calcutta with P. Klee and V. Kandinsky to the creation of the Delhi Triennale (1968) and Bhopal International Print Bienniale, new reflections on indianity and internationalism were at stake in India. On the other hand, the increasing participation of Indian artists to festivals, art fairs, bienniales, and the recent series of retrospectives on contemporary Indian art travelling from New York to Tokyo, emphasize the increasing power of market and institutional networks building a « national » art scene. I will discuss and map the circulations of artists and exhibitions, and their impact on contemporary art spaces and practices in India.
Throughout this presentation, my aims will be also to highlight the progressive construction of links with a global South in a context of redefinition of a eurocentric world of art. How several networks, built under particular geopolitical context, can be unhearthed to provide other possibilities of constructing Indian modern and contemporary art history? I will conclude on the importance to foster researches on South-South circulation of models and networks and how they open on new possibilities of re-writing global art history.
Why the School of Paris is not French
Robert Jensen, Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA
This paper explores both the art historical and the geographical problems posed by the phenomenon known as “The School of Paris” and more specifically, the question as to why the School of Paris is not French. There are obvious external social factors that contributed to the foreign national constituency of the School of Paris, such as the great Jewish migration from the East European Pale from the 1890s onward as well as the devastating upheavals of World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1918. These factors, however, do not adequately explain why the “School of Paris” came into existence only after 1910 and not before, given the huge number of foreign artists who visited and studied in Paris throughout the 19th century. Nor do they sufficiently account for why the rival “School of France”, constructed out of nationalism and anti-Semitism, failed both commercially and art historically to command the kind of the attention the School of Paris artists received. We also need to know much more about the social and institutional networks necessary to form innovative art centers. For example, how do we explain how artists, coming from far abroad, often with little money and even less command of French, not only find, but manage to befriend many of the most important artists, both foreign and French, already working in the capital. What made foreign entry into the Parisian art world favorable at this time and not before, and what paths for artistic assimilation became available to foreign artists?
My paper takes a simple quantitative approach to the study of the behavior of the most European and North American artists active from the 1860s to the end of the 1920s. I survey 292 important foreign national artists over five birth cohorts divided by decade to explore what factors most contributed to the attractiveness of Paris for long-term residency and what changes occurred over time. Most of these artists’ careers have been well documented, so it is comparatively easy to determine who were the non-native major artists who visited Paris; whether they studied there and for how long; whether they resided in Paris beyond the span of their art studies and if so for how long and where they lived; and whether they exhibited in Paris and if so how often and in what venues.
This data demonstrates that education was not the primary motivation for Parisian residency and that, importantly, there are major shifts in exhibition opportunities for foreign artists after 1900. It suggests that an essential requirement for a lengthy, commercially successful Parisian residency was the interest shown by French (and, later, foreign) collectors toward non-national artists and the accompanying interest of art dealers. Distinct patterns of relationship networks can also be described that help explain the capacity of immigrant artists to enter successfully the Parisian art world at this time. Finally, this data helps account for the often strange and uncertain place the School of Paris artists have within 20th-century art historiography
Mapping the Geopolitics of the Avant-Garde between the Wars. The Case of Modernist Magazines in the 1920s.
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Associate Professor, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, France
“It is impossible to take in new life in Holland. This is why I am particularly interested in other countries,” the Dutch artist Theo Van Doesburg wrote in 1920, explaining why he was interested in Paris. In 1917, Van Doesburg had founded the modernist magazine De Stijl in Holland, with the hope that it would play a significant role in the international avant-garde. He was sure at this time that Paris was the center of this international movement. By 1923, however, Van Doesburg changed his mind: “In Paris everything is completely dead (…) For me it is certain that the new cultural zone is the North.”
The goal of this paper is to study the evolution of the geopolitics of the avant-garde in the 1920s, from the point of view of modernist magazines. By “geopolitical”, I mean an approach that is focused on transnational relationships between various centers of artistic activity, that also addresses the way in which artists managed their carriers and their works according to what they thought was the best location in Europe to exist, to create, to exhibit, and to sell. Like Van Doesburg, many artists who were anxious to be at the heart of the modernist scene founded a magazine. The creation of such modernist magazines was a means to be a part of the international scene.
These kinds of publications and their networks can therefore be a useful subject to renew our idea of the geopolitics of avant-gardism in the 1920s. An effective means to represent and understand this geopolitics is to use quantitative and cartographic visualization. What kind of maps would these tools produce on the international avant-garde scene, on what its artists published, who they discuss, and from where they publish? Traditional narratives present Paris as the center of avant-gardism, and peripheries as places that were immune to innovation because of the lack of an interested public as well as a rise of reactionary or fascist governments. But if we try to reconstitute a plausible image of the contemporary evolutions of these centers and peripheries of modernism, the result is quite different.
In the first part of this article, I will present the results of a database analysis of approximately 360 magazines that were considered modernist at the time of publication, between 1914 and 1945, in Europe and in the United States, focusing on the 1920s. The statistical and cartographic visualization of magazine foundation alone gives us an interesting chronology that highlights Paris’ isolation in the 1920s, and the importance of former peripheries and their relationships to each other and with new centers, such as Berlin, until the decline of Germany’s centrality around 1926. These visualizations then beg such questions as: What new centers did the artists find to replace Paris and Berlin?
In the second part, I will analyze how the geopolitics of modernism presented issues to these magazines’ activity. One can see that international networks developed through other networks of international correspondents. The maps that correspond to those social systems—often centering on Paris around 1920—evolve rather quickly, in a growing distance from the French capital city where artists fail to find the dynamism they had expected to see. Where does one find, then, a new center for avant-gardism? The migrations and international trips of the magazine directors, and the maps showing these voyages, provide an interesting illustration of the way they searched for this new center.
Ultimately, the ambition of this paper is to demonstrate that, far from being a distant and disembodied approach to the history of avant-gardes, the geopolitical and cartographic approach is embedded in a dialogue with artistic activity.
Global Definition of National Identity. Dilemmas of the national art gallery exhibiting contemporary art
Małgorzata Lisiewicz, Instructor, University of Gdansk, Poland
The paper attempts at describing changes in ways of practicing national identity in spaces exhibiting art that took place in Poland in new political circumstances of the nineties. Based on the case study of the exhibition at the national art institution in Poland devoted to the evolution of the concept of national identity and the exhibition of Polish culture shown at the major American museum I am proposing a new perspective on the global understanding and practice of national identity. I define this change as paradigmatic; national identity becomes practiced inexplicitly more and more as devoid of content and essence, and consequently, as having a purely indexical nature which meaning and function is to point to the position of the country within the international network.
The starting point for my reflection is the dilemma that appeared in Polish cultural thinking in case of institutions interested on a one hand in promoting contemporary art and on another proclaiming the necessity to act in the name of interests defined as national. Once Poland freed itself of the Soviet dominion, the country oriented openly its politics towards the integration with the Western world. The challenge posed by new political circumstances dictated by the globalizing reality results from a confrontation of two seemingly opposing goals. One is a tendency to support contemporary artistic practices which predominantly seek to achieve a transnational, if not antinational, character, the other is the sense of the mission of promoting national significance. Polish contemporary art world locating itself within the global scene due to new geopolitical affiliations has been propagating cultural mobility, internationalism, and global cooperation, and assumes a rather transgressive position towards national borders. Reconceptualizations of the notion of national identity which revealed its constructed, historical, and conservative character inspired anti-nationalistic thinking also in the contemporary Polish art world stimulated in addition by the past pro-Western trends developed in communist times. However, the contemporary institutional framework within which art functions, such as an international cooperation between museums, international exhibitions and other, enforces respecting national affiliations. This concerns Poland with its pressing need to be a partner of equal rank on the global arena as well as any other country freely participating in a global network.
The paper proposes an understanding of this seemingly contradictory politics run by an exhibition institution such as a national gallery or a national museum. Based on selected case studies of exhibitions I am suggesting that the reconciliation of these two opposing goals has become possible thanks to the evolution of the very definition of national identity practiced by the contemporary world. The new concept defines a national specificity not in relation to its intrinsic character but as a difference to a location of other cultures on the international scale. “Intrinsic qualities” becomes downright derivative of the position of the country within global market. The analyses take into account various components of exhibition making such as exhibited art but also its mode of hanging, exhibition design and accompanying programs.
The proposal is based on my book Polish Global Identity. Dilemmas of the National Gallery of Art at the End of the Twentieth Century, published in 2009.
ARTL@S as a Strategy for Rethinking Art History Scholarship
Sorin Adam Matei, Associate Professor, Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University
The core Artl@s digital humanities strategy is that of loosely coupling resources, platforms, and use scenarios. A number of sites will feed from the same geodatabase (Basart), which will be enriched by users with new content. Inspired by the Web 2.0 design principles, Artl@s relies on the Basart API, which will enable an ecosystem of sites to use primary data to generate their own maps, charts, and tables. The core philosophy of Artl@s is to “learn by sharing” and to generate knowledge by social interaction between successive generations of scholars. User-generated content will be monitored by data management and curation techniques that will ensure the rigor of the scientific approach.
Cartography and art historiography: Imaging Slavic Europe, Eastern Europe, Communist and Post-Communist Europe
Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius, Associate Lecturer, University of London, Great Britain
My talk will focus on the wider strategies of turning space into an image – of representing and classifying space, past and present. I want to argue that while adopting the tools of cartography as tools of art history – in order to spatialise and quantify our understanding of art – we cannot ignore the postmodern critique of the map which, under the banner of the New Cartography, has developed within the discipline of cartography from the mid 1980s. It challenged the map’s time-honoured claims to scientific neutrality, revealing instead its kinship with the arts, as well as its inherent relationship with power. Since then, maps have been theorised as texts, cultural artefacts and signifying devices, as well as unmasked as the tools of imperialism and nationalism. By drawing and naturalising the boundaries, past and present, they have been said to ‘turn history into nature’, fixing identities, as well as excluding the other.
I want to focus on the ways of mapping the notoriously ill-defined space of Eastern Europe, known also as the New Europe, East Central Europe, or even Central Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, the region, so far hardly named and framed by mapmakers, emerged as a separate geographical, political and cultural entity, and mappable as such, in spite of its constantly shifting boundaries and dimensions. It could either loom large between the Baltic in the north, the Mediterranean in the south and the Ural mountains in the east, bridging Europe and Asia, or, it could also shrivel down to a strip of the ‘lands-in-between’, which are sandwiched uncomfortably between Europe’s West and East. Using some of the approaches of the New Cartography and Critical Geopolitics, the paper will compare different visual regimes used to represent the cultural and political entities of ‘Slavic Europe’ ‘Eastern Europe’, Communist Europe and Post-Communist Europe. I want to argue that it is the maps which have played, and are still playing, a significant role in the legitimisation of the collective identity of this region. I would also like to reflect on the relationship between those cartographic regimes to the truths professed by the discipline of art history, finally, posing a question whether the medium of the map could become a tool of re-signifying strategies.
A propos de Nice: mapping a regional/international phenomenon for a national stage
Rosemary O’Neill, Associate Professor, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, USA
Ben Vautier designed the cover of the exhibition A propos de Nice featuring a map of the French Riviera onto which he wrote artists’ names in script and designated with arrows the cities and towns where these individual artists lived and worked. This catalogue was produced for the inauguration of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre National d’Art et de Culture George Pompidou in January 1977. Pontus Hulten writes in the introduction that the aim was to consider the artistic experiences that have taken place outside of Paris and to assure a greater diffusion of artistic activity that is being produced far from the Parisian capital.
The selection of the Alpes-Maritimes region beginning in 1947 and covering thirty years of diverse activity in along this coastal zone appears strategic given its status as both a regional capital and an international destination. Ben (as he is known) was chosen to curate the exhibition and design the catalogue, according to Hulten, because of his intersections with three distinct groups associated with the region – Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, and Supports-Surfaces. Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus were internationally known with international rosters of artists, while Supports-Surfaces was recognized nationally and across the Mediterranean as the result of exhibitions that spanned the region from the Italian border to the Pyrenees’ border with Spain, exemplified by the twelve exhibitions of Été 70. What is equally of note in this catalogue is Ben’s insistence that the artists take a position regarding their rapport with Occitain culture and language. Beyond showcasing work generated beyond the nation’s capital, this catalogue aimed to problematize identity and highlight the presence of ethnic cultures advocated by François Fontan whose contribution to this publication consists of a map configured with European ethnic cultures territories premised on linguistic borders.
This paper will examine this exhibition catalogue as a model of intertwining cords of regional, national, international and ethnic links in relation to the distinctive artistic production produced in the region, which is firmly linked to the geography and history of place. Thirty-five years after this publication, the choice of maps appears prescient on the part of Ben. With the locale’s strong affiliation with Mediterranean culture, a history of cultural diversity, and a legacy of international tourism, the French Riviera is an exemplary case study of the complexities of defining this cultural space in relation to current national, transnational, and global models.
Locating Schéhérazade: the ‘Orient’ of the Thousand and One Nights, the Ballets Russes, and Paris, 1910
Nikoo Paydar, PhD, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Great Britain
The legendary tales of the Thousand and One Nights, whose heroine Scheherazade became synonymous with the tales and acquired mythic status within European culture in the early twentieth century, served as the inspiration for the popular and critically acclaimed Ballets Russes Schéhérazade, which premiered in Paris, 1910. My PhD research examines how Ballets Russes audiences confused the production’s femme fatale heroine Zobeida with the peace-making storyteller Scheherazade, who is named in the ballet’s title but eliminated from the plot onstage, and what this confusion suggests about Scheherazade’s status in Paris in the 1910s.
Schéhérazade is a Russian production designed for a Parisian audience and set in a ‘Persian’ harem; the character Scheherazade and her tales which comprise the Thousand and One Nights add further cultural complexity, with Persian, Indian, and Arab origins and over a thousand years of translation and appropriation. In this presentation I build upon my research to locate Scheherazade and the Ballets Russes production within a history of appropriations of the Thousand and One Nights and at the intersection of transnational influences.
The International Networks of Artistic Elites
Léa Saint-Raymond, Artl@s Research Fellow, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, France
It seems commonplace to say that the more an artist is connected to the social elite, the more likely he is to succeed; this point is even more accurate in the dealer-critic system (Harrison and Cynthia White, Canvases and Careers, 1965), as the art world becomes less exclusive than academia. In academics, the artist’s career was clearly defined through a cursus honorum in Fine arts schools and Fine art academies, whereas the way to succeed became less obvious in the dealer-critic system, and depended more and more on the relationships that the artist was able to build with critics, art galleries and the social elite of the time.
The aim of this paper is to discuss the latter point in the dealer-critic system and to examine what kinds of relationships were necessary for an artist to have lasting fame. Maps provide an original and interesting way to immediately visualize these connections, not only geographic ones (that point out the international networks of artistic elites) but also “social maps”, mapping social space, such as principal component analysis, factor analysis and network analysis.
The first two social maps are often used in sociology as descriptive statistics in order to represent a set of many variables in a two-dimensional space: the closer an item of a variable is to another item of another variable, the more these characteristics are statistically correlated. Principal component analysis and factor analysis maps represent the proximity of characteristics; they are a kind of map of social space. On the other hand, network analysis provides a visual representation of the links between individuals: for instance, if we represent a portraitist by a dot, and a patron that two portraitists have in common by a line between these two dots, then the bigger the line between two dots represents a greater number of patrons shared by these portraitists. Finally, this social network is a kind of map of centrality and marginality within the social space.
I will focus on portraitists, when the dealer-critic system is being established, from the end of the 19th century through the 1930’s. If we accept the assumption that patrons constitute a good representation of the portraitist’s network, in the broad sense of the word, this restricted population of artists allows us to immediately highlight their networks. However, one must distinguish between portrait painters and photographers, as well as between genuine portraitists and artists who did not specialize in portraits but rather who made portraits once during their career. Thanks to geographic and social mapping, this paper endeavors to answer the following questions: among these portrait makers, is it possible to establish a chronology of network-developing? Can we extract an “artistic elite”, having climbed to the top of the pyramid thanks to a network mostly constituted by the social elite of the time? What would be, then, the evolution of this elite? To what extent were these networks international? Finally, how does networking help artists gain recognition?
Mapping Conflict: Examining the Political Efficacy of Cartographic Fragmentation in Jane and Louise Wilson’s A Free and Anonymous Monument
Helena Shaskevich, Ph.D. student, City University of New York, USA
This paper examines the different ways in which contemporary artistic practices modeled on cartography can articulate the complex relationship between the local and global. I focus primarily on A Free and Anonymous Monument, Jane and Louise Wilson’s 2003 video installation commissioned by the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Composed of 13 single and multi-screen projections, their work examines historical moments of loss, failure and transition, as it relates the histories of the industrial degeneration and the consequent, ongoing urban regeneration in Northeast England.
In the first portion of the paper I analyze the formal aesthetics of the Wilsons’ project, arguing that the installation doubles as a map of Northeast England’s industrial landscape. Comparing the installation to one of the most iconic 20th century works of artistic cartography, The Naked City, I argue that the Wilson’s project provides far more than a mere geo-historic description of the landscape. Instead, A Free and Anonymous Monument utilizes an aesthetic of cartographic fragmentation and reconfiguration to critically assess the violent, homogenizing logic of capitalist aesthetics.
In the second portion of the paper I examine the ways in which a Situationist-inspired cartography can articulate the complex relationship between the local and the global. Utilizing the critical theories of David Harvey, I evaluate the socio-political critique manifest in the Wilsons’ project. Following over three decades of severe economic decline, larger metropolitan areas in Northeast England began culturally-led regeneration programs, explicitly promoting themselves as hubs of leisure and culture. As Northern England’s spaces of industry and manufacturing were transformed into museums and monuments, Northern England’s industrial past was distilled and neutralized. These re-inventions distanced the Northern England of ‘now,’ as a clean and beautiful international space of sport and leisure, from the Northern England of the ‘past’ as the dreary, dirty and localized space of industrial manufacturing. Furthermore, locality was produced and utilized as a marketing device, the result of global demands more than an emanation of regional styles. This reductive methodology obscures the socio-political and economic struggles that lie beneath these transformations.
The last portion of my paper focuses on the political efficacy of the Wilson’s project. I argue that their work presents an alternative to the town’s culture-led regeneration program. By juxtaposing films of various sites of industrial degeneration throughout Northern England next to one another, the Wilsons reject narration and description. Instead of reiterating a singular tragic narrative that would deny difference and inconsistency, they acknowledge the conflict and contestation that underlies the recent socio-economic changes in Northern England. Utilizing the work of Michel de Certeau and Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus, I explore the political efficacy of A Free and Anonymous Monument. Does the Wilsons’ de-territorialization of a politically rejected landscape also re-configure spaces of privilege and disenfranchisement, or does its relationship to these spaces merely conceal further homogenization?
Periphery, Dislocation, Center: The Rhetoric of Empire in Richard Long’s Land Art
Eric M. Stryker Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University, USA
Art historical discourse on site-specific art practices has, on the one hand, emphasized its engagement with the specific topography and characteristics of its locale, while on the other hand referenced its existence elsewhere as forms of reference (image, map, and materials from the site become sculpture.) This is especially true in Land Art in the United States and Britain, where the migration of materials – from site to gallery, from environment to form – is one of its defining features. In the case of British land artist Richard Long, often called more environmentally sensitive than his American counterparts, the artist’s chosen sites, travel paths, forms of documentation and types of dislocations resonate against the history of British empire, exploration and exploitation of natural resources of foreign lands.
Long travelled to remote locations, including significant places (such as the Himalayas) that figured into heroic narratives of British colonialism. These high places, coupled with low places including the Irish boglands, reveal that Long’s selectively global artistic production sometimes rehearses the spatial activities of Empire. For instance, in photographs and text journals, he records his travels in manners that are reminiscent of 19th Century campaigns in Africa or South Asia.
These spaces, of course, were no longer colonies in the time of his artistic interventions in their landscapes. What is significant, however, about them is the degree to which they provide a new means of evaluating the vast quantity of similar works he created between the edges of Great Britain. This paper proposes that Long’s work engages in a rhetoric of empire that at once rehearses those histories, while also identifying transience, movement, and absence at the very sites colonialism once probed and sought to control. Yet, if he enacts empire, he does so picturing his own body always as an absence leaving transient traces: series of lines, borders, crossings, and geographical jumps in the landscapes he traverses which will soon dissolve, erode or tumble. If there is a nostalgia for empire and its migratory patterns, here – it is an ambivalent one.
Long’s work is an object lesson in how the dislocations of cultural objects – as image-representation, as imperial appropriation of objects or ideas, or as nostalgic reference to an object lost to history – is predicated on politicized definitions of territory. In this sense and others, this paper will be the first to adopt concepts drawn from post-colonialism and human geography to evaluate the place of site-specific art practices in global art history.
Claiming Land and Roots: Mapping Dutch Identity Across the Atlantic
Elizabeth Sutton, Assistant Professor, The University of Northern Iowa, USA
Immanuel Wallerstein marks the sixteenth century as the beginning of a world-economy that by 1648 was an interstate system wherein states were theoretically sovereign, independent, and equal, but in reality, were hierarchically positioned. By this time, the Dutch ruled this world-economy. The construction of knowledge about the world and legitimating Dutch control of it can be examined using seventeenth-century maps and travel images produced for Dutch consumption.
This paper summarizes a larger project in which I investigate how the Dutch visually constructed and reinforced their national identity in news maps, prints, and illustrated texts concerning their presence in the Atlantic world. I examine printed cartographical imagery Dutch engravers and publishers produced at this critical period c. 1648. Maps, atlases, and “histories” published by the Visscher and Blaeu firms were eagerly consumed by Dutch readers. Image and text were combined to present Dutch military exploits and colonial and trading prospects. The production and sale of Dutch maps in the first half of the century contributed to a world-system where the Dutch were at the economic center. Geographical documents like maps and travelogues were commodities that the Dutch, and later, other states, used for economic and political purposes as the global economy continued to expand.
Maps were important objects for their decorative, propagandistic, and navigational utility and thus were deeply significant to the Dutch economy. They both created and reflected a particular kind of nationalism. The particular ways in which Dutch colonies in the Americas were represented in maps and views demonstrate part of the process of Dutch identity formation, an identity that in the seventeenth century was intimately tied to an idealized view of the Dutch as a new nation formed by people with an ancient and civilized heritage. Authors, publishers, engravers, and consumers were able to construct identities as part of a nation-state founded on ancient Roman legal, philosophical, and practical systems by recalling visual traditions and combining text with images that described and legitimated their civilization and their right to rule. The prints suggest an emphasis on civic and religious structures, parceled plots of land, and fortifications. Such prints visually promoted a type of identity defined by the republican civic ideals of the adolescent Republic. The imperial frontier was domesticated and controlled in the picture frame, underscoring an identity defined by humanist rationality, republican values, and economic idealism.
It is my aim to analyze what these prints can tell us about Dutch conceptions of both their territories and themselves during the so-called Golden Age. Moreover, I seek to point out how important global and local economics are in the production of visual culture, and in the production and legitimization of power. The interrelated arenas of economy, politics, and culture are absolutely relevant and important today. These historical examples expose how economic interests have impacted and continue to impact what is privileged as both desirable commodity and legitimate source of knowledge.
Avant-Garde Cinema (1960-1975) in New York and Beyond: a Geographical Approach
Barbara Turquier, Ph.D. Student, doctorat de Civilisation américaine, Université Paris Diderot.
Increasing attention has been given to space in studies of American avant-garde cinema in recent years. Sally Banes (1993), Robert Haller (2005), Scott MacDonald (2008) and David James (2005) have linked cinematographic artistic practices to their local and regional contexts, while Scott MacDonald (2001), Paul Arthur (2005) and P. Adams Sitney (2008) have focused on filmic representations of space, within various intellectual traditions. Although only James states his debt to the field of “geography of art”, it is however noteworthy that the relationship between space and film (and especially film practice) is no longer only seen through generic, aesthetic or cultural approaches, but can be envisioned through the prism of a geography informed by sociological and historical thinking.
This contribution attempts at describing in geographical terms the development of avant-garde cinema in the 1960s and early 1970s, taking up the case of the artists of the New York Film-Makers’ Cooperative and their relations with other spaces, on a local, national and international scale. As this paper attempts to demonstrate, each of these scales challenged conceptions of the avant-garde initially promoted by the leaders of the Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives, especially Jonas Mekas.
A group of artists who originated from diverse American states or from abroad (notably from Europe and Asia), the avant-garde cinema of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in the years 1960-1975 is deeply rooted in the local New York scene – which seems a fairly typical feature of the contemporary New York art scene. However, the Cooperative necessarily interacted with other spaces: as a model of artistic organization, the cooperative disseminated elsewhere as other film cooperatives were founded (in the United-States as in Pittsburg and San Francisco, in Europe in Paris and London), influenced by the New York precedent yet quickly acquiring their own autonomy and identity. The cooperative structure was based on the lending on film through a “film library”, whose circulation was essential both to the financial sustainability of the group and to its recognition as a significant artistic movement. Throughout the 1960s, the New York Cooperative was increasingly linked with cooperatives and festivals abroad, notably in Europe (for instance the Knokke-le-Zoute film festival in Belgium), often causing opposition on the varied meanings of avant-garde (for instance, French filmmakers and critics markedly rejected American underground films as being apolitical). The increasing role of universities in the field of cinema in the 1970s, both as an outlet for 16 mm art film renting, and as a professional opportunity for filmmakers, furthermore changed the geographies of avant-garde film as well as its conceptual framework. Simultaneously, the New York Film-Makers’ version of the film avant-garde increasingly came under attack around the mid-1970s, notably by feminist, gay or ethically minority filmmakers who criticized the formation of an dominantly male and white avant-garde “canon” (notably at Anthology Film Archives). Other cooperatives dealt differently with that evolution, notably including a larger variety of film practices, included in the wider category of “minority cinemas”, for instance in Los Angeles (James, 2005). A set of mappings will support this approach of avant-garde film in its different scales and interactions as well as its evolution.