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“Curating Art History”: Dialogues between museum professionals and academics

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts                Programme

The University of Birmingham

7th and 8th May 2014

Keynote speaker: Catherine De Lorenzo (University of New South Wales, Australia)

Speakers: Helen Shaw (University of York); Aparajita Bhattacharya (Hans Raj College, New Delhi, India); Andy Ellis (Public Catalogue Foundation); Karen Raney (Engage Journal); Ming Turner (National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan; Vera Carmo (University of Coimbra, Portugal); Elin Morgan (The New Art Gallery, Walsall); Rebecca Darley and Daniel Reynolds (Warburg Institute; The University of Birmingham); Richard Clay, Henry Chapman, Leslie Brubaker (The University of Birmingham); Stacy Boldrick (The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh); Simon Cane (Birmingham Museums Trust)

Themes: Ethnography and curating native art: Australian art history and Aboriginal art; Native American artistic practice and the gallery space; Cataloguing cultural heritage in India and the legacy of colonial policy. Knowledge exchange and development: Providing specialist knowledge to public art collections; gallery education and curatorial strategy. Exhibitions that challenge curatorial practice and art history: Post-humanist desire: Innovative research and methods of display; Crash Music: re-exhibiting impermanent art; Jacob Epstein’s Rock Drill: a creative curatorial opportunity. Case study at the Barber Institute: Exhibiting coins as economic artefacts: Faith and Fortune: visualizing the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic coinage. Round table – International Iconoclasms network: Cross-disciplinary debate and Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm at Tate Britain.

Tickets (£20 full price; £10 students) can be purchased from the online shop: click here.

Negotiating Boundaries. The Plural Fields of Art History Barber Institute of Fine Art University of Birmingham Monday 1st – Tuesday 2nd July 2013 Keynote Speakers: Robert Bagley (Princeton University), Styles, Periods and the Life Cycle of the Goblin and Alice Donohue (Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania), History and the Historian of Ancient Art Speakers: Laura Camille Agoston (Trinity University, San Antonio ), Priyanka Basu (St Norbert College, Wisconsin), Colleen Becker (Columbia University), Laura Breen (University of Westminster), Lesley Brubaker (University of Birmingham), Antoinette Friedenthal (Independent Scholar), Jannis Galanopoulos and Georgia Metaxa (University of Crete and Athens School of Fine Art), Jack Hartnell (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Sandy Heslop and Joanne Clarke (Sainsbury Institute for Art, East Anglia), Stefan Muthesius (University of East Anglia), Meredith Nelson-Berry (Brad Graduate Centre, New York), Heike Neumeister (Birmingham City University), Amalia Papaioannou  (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University). The formation of art history as a discipline was underpinned by the claim to a special area of expertise which, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was accompanied by the development of particular concepts and methods, from the formal and spatial analysis of Wölfflin, Riegl or Schmarsow to the iconology of Panofsky. Linked to the emergence of the concept of autonomous art, the establishment of the discipline was achieved by means of certain exclusions; a rigid line of demarcation was drawn between art history and archaeology, aesthetic judgments were deemed irrelevant and, in a mirroring of Kantian thought, the decorative and applied arts became the objects of a separate, less prestigious, domain of inquiry. For all the recent talk of interdisciplinarity, these exclusions still shape the terrain of scholarship, producing numerous incongruities. Art historians still seldom discuss the applied arts, while in the Anglophone world architectural history remains a separate subject (with its own professional and discursive institutions). Prehistoric art and the art of the classical worlds are still topics mostly of interest for archaeologists rather than art historians, while the division between fine art and the applied arts has produced a caesura between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’ in the historiography of, for example, the art of the Islamic world or China. This conference is not concerned with calling for a renewed embrace of interdisciplinary thinking, but rather with considering the implications of the status quo. Why are certain art historical topics still the domain of researchers in other disciplines? What are the consequences? Given the contemporary skepticism towards totalizing forms of thought, should it be even seen as a problem that discourse on art is so plural? The full programme can be found at: A selection from the presented papers will be published in this journal as part of the December issue 2013.


After the ‘New Art History’, University of Birmingham, 26-27 March 2012 The term ‘new art history’ has long been an established – albeit contentious – part of the critical lexicon of the art historical discipline. Associated with the pioneering social and feminist art histories of T J Clark and Griselda Pollock of the 1970s (expanding in subsequent decades to encompass post-colonial, Freudian,  post-Freudian and wider gender-studies approaches), it denoted a conceptual shift that foregrounded the dependence of intellectual inquiry on a priori ideological / political values. In recent years such interlinking has been undermined in a number of ways. Embryonic discourses such as neuro-art history, environmental approaches to art and neo-Darwinian accounts have sought to create alternative ‘objective,’ ‘scientific’ and depoliticised paradigms of inquiry. On the other hand, it has been seen as insufficiently self-critical; for many proponents of visual studies its institutional success has led to a blunted vision, in which the value of basic categories, such as ‘art’ allegedly remain uninterrogated. Finally, growing external political pressures on the Academy, which have been focused on instrumentalising art history, are potentially threatening to turn the discipline into a service industry for the market, stripping it of its force as a mode of radical social and cultural inquiry. This conference will examine the state and futures of radical art history within this context. What has been gained for the discipline over the past 40 years, and what are the dangers for these gains in the present? What are the current challenges for radical art history, and how are they being met? The Full Programme can be found here[R1] . Participants included: Whitney Davis (UCB); Griselda Pollock (Leeds); Fiona Allen and Simon Constantine (Leeds); Rina Arya (Wolverhampton); Noemi de Haro García (Madrid); Joanne Heath (Leeds); David Hulks (UEA); Krista Kodres (Tallinn); Jenni Lauwrens (Pretoria); Matthew Rampley (Birmingham); Renja Suominen-Kokkonen (Helsinki); Ian Verstegen (Philadelphia); Shearer West (Oxford).

Constructing the Discipline: Art History in the UK, University of Glasgow,  November 2010 Participants included: Catherine Roach (Cornell): ‘Monomania: Sir Joshua Reynolds and the Monographic Exhibition, 1813/2005′; Hilary Macartney (Glasgow): ‘Experiments in Photography as the Tool of Art History, no. 1: William Stirling’s Annals of the Artists of Spain (1848)'; Katia Mazzucco (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz): ‘1941: English Art and the Mediterranean. An Exhibition by the Warburg Institute in London'; Branko Mitrovic (Auckland): ‘Ernst Gombrich and the innocence of the eye'; Marie McLoughlin (Brighton): ‘The other Coldstream Report (1970)'; Beth Williamson (Tate, London): ‘Art History in the Art School: The Critical Historians of Camberwell'; Joanne Gooding (Northumbria): ‘The formation of Design History as a Discipline in the 1970s: Why did Design Historians feel the need to separate from ‘new Art History’?’ ; Natasha Degen (Cambridge): ‘Historicising the Contemporary: Bryan Robertson and the Whitechapel Art Gallery'; Florian Urban (Glasgow School of Art): ‘Built Historiography in Glasgow’s New Gorbals’; Ken Neill (Glasgow School of Art): ‘Authority and Pragmatism in the 21stC Art School’; Christoph Schnoor (Auckland): ‘Space in words: Colin Rowe’s essays on modern architecture’  Abstracts Art History in Vienna 1856-1938, University of Glasgow, October 2009 Participants included: Dorothea Mcewan (Warburg Institute): ‘Saxl’s contacts with the “Wiener Schule” but no institutional contacts between the KBW in Hamburg and the “Wiener Schule”‘; Hans Aurenhammer (Frankfurt): ‘Max Dvořák and Medieval Art'; Jonathan Blower (Edinburgh): ‘Max Dvořák’s Denkmalpflege’; Agnes Blaha (Vienna): ‘Fritz Novotny and the New Vienna School’; Jindrich Vybiral (Prague): ‘The Vienna School and modern architecture’; Kathryn Simpson (Concordia): ‘The Vienna School of Art History & Austrian Expressionism’; Hadwig Kraeutler (Vienna): ‘ “Rondom Rembrandt” – Otto Neurath’s (r)evolutionary art-related exhibition’; Karl Johns (Los Angeles): ‘Julius Schlosser and his Vienna “School”: The Development of an Unwilling Grey Eminence’; Andrew Hopkins (Aquila): ‘Riegl Renaissances’; Arnold Witte (Amsterdam): ‘Riegl’s Roman Baroque’; Diana Reynolds Cordileone (Point Loma): ‘The Advantages and Disadvantages of Art History to Life: Alois Riegl and Historicism’; Adi Efal (Tel Aviv): ‘Reality as the Cause of Art: Riegl and neo-Kantian-Realism’; Ricardo de Mambro (Willamette): ‘Words of suspension. The definition of “Written Sources” in Schlosser’s Kunstliteratur’ ; Andrea Pinotti (Milan): ‘Mute Stories: Franz Wickhoff’s contribution to figurative narratology’; Matthew Rampley (Teesside): ‘For the Love of the Fatherland: Patriotic Art History in the Kronprinzenwerk’; Francesca Torello (Carnegie Mellon): ‘Eitelberger: the influential career of a non-specialist’; Branko Mitrovic (Unitech NZ & The Clark): ‘The notion of the group in 20s German theorising’; Ian Verstegen (Philadelphia): ‘Materializing Sedlmayr’; Daniela Bohde (Frankfurt): ‘Pieter Breughel’s Macchia and Hans Sedlmayr’s art of physiognomic seeing’; Cindy Persinger (West Virginia): ‘Meyer Schapiro and the New Vienna School’; Evonne Levy (Toronto): ‘Sedlmayr and Schapiro Correspond, 1930-1935’  Abstracts Thinking about Art History, the German Way, University of Glasgow, October 2008. Participants included: Matthew Rampley (Teesside University): ‘Art History and the Crisis in the Human Sciences: Spengler to Sedlmayr'; Christian Fuhrmeister (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich): ‘German Art History and the notions of “objective scholarship” and “pure science”, 1920-1950’; Margaret Olin (School of the Art Institute of Chicago): ‘Look at Your Fish: Science, Modernism, and Alois Riegl’s Formal Analysis’; Helen Bridge (University of Exeter): ‘Empathy Theory and Art History’; Daniela Bohde (Goethe Universität Frankfurt): ‘Art history as a physiognomic discipline’; Andrea Pinotti (University of Milan): ‘Body and Space: August Schmarsow between Phenomenology and Psychophysiology’; Paul Stirton (University of Glasgow): ‘Lukács, Antal and the German Sources for the Social History of Art'; Heinrich Dilly (University of Halle): ‘One Hundred Years of Aesthetics and the Theory of Art’; Mitchell Frank (Carleton University): ‘Recapitulation and Evolutionism in German Artwriting’; Joan Hart (USA, independent scholar): ‘Heuristic Constructs and Ideal Types: The Wölfflin/Weber Connection’.