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Arnold Witte on The fringes in and of art historiography in post-1945 Europe

22 February 2021

The fringes in and of art historiography in post-1945 Europe

Review of:

Noemi de Haro García, Patricia Mayayo and Jesús Carrillo (eds.), Making Art History in Europe after 1945, New York/London: Routledge, 2020. ISBN 978-0-8153-9379-6. (Hardback) £ 120; ISBN 9781351187596 (eBook) £ 33.29

Arnold Witte (University of Amsterdam) 24/AW1

Abstract: The volume under review here investigates how politics in post-1945 Europe affected the academic, critical and political discourses on art. It focuses specifically (but not exclusively) on the fringes of the continent: the eastern and southern regions, thus highlighting the role played by the discipline of art history in former Communist countries and erstwhile military (fascist) regimes. The volume also sets out to expand upon the sources of art historiography by tying into the current strand of research on the exhibitionary complex, and by discussing cultural policies and art criticism. The result is an intellectual journey through time and geopolitical space, and across disciplines. Although the volume sets a new agenda in decentralising the approach of art historiography by shifting the focus from a regional to a geopolitical perspective, it has failed to convincingly fill this gap, largely because of the inclusion of criticism and cultural policy, inevitably leading to a fragmented and, at times, superficial view of how politics influences the discourse on the arts.

Key words: Cold war historiography, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, communism, military regimes, geopolitics, cultural policy, art criticism

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