Tag Archives: global history

CFP: ‘Decentering Realisms, 1750–Now’, Virtual Conference (The Courtauld Institute of Art), with a related online reading group (details below)

Conference date: Friday 12 and Saturday 13 March 2021

Proposals due: 16 November 2020

This conference will explore realism in art across the world, from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. Seeking to decentre conventional art histories of realism which anchor the concept in nineteenth-century Europe and to open it up to redefinition, this conference will gather together scholars and artists working on all modern periods and all geographies: from 1750 to the present; from Asia, Africa, South America, North America, Australasia and Europe. The conference will ask how far and in what ways can art from across the world be comprehended under the expanded term ‘realism’? 

Realism is a notoriously slippery but pervasive and persistent concept that transcends style and medium, and which encompasses many forms of representation. It is a keyword of established art historical methodologies but it is also much more than this, it has proved to be a highly flexible term that is embedded in the terminologies of many distinct traditions and avant-gardes around the world. We are curious about how realism intersects with different forms of naturalism and how it can also extend to abstraction. At its core realism is often about capturing and intervening in something of the artist’s contemporary social reality through a set of aesthetic conventions. We are calling this the ‘realist effect’. Our expertise in realism within a European context has made us aware of tensions, ambiguities and paradoxes underpinning the term. We want to explore whether comparable and different ambiguities lie behind the term’s enduring, widespread appeal. Our aim is to bring art histories of realism in line with the geocultural expansion of the discipline, while at the same time seeking alternative understandings of this phenomenon to those offered by the politics and epistemologies of globalisation.

Questions asked by this conference include: how does art from different geographies and time periods purport to represent reality? What does the realist effect look like in different geographies, traditions and avant-gardes? We seek to explore the ways realism is receptive to a variety of progressive politics and what happens when different pictorial conventions of the real interact, dominate and subvert one another. For example, how did photography respond to and alter realist conventions as the technology was adapted across the world? In addressing the ‘here and now’, how does realist art negotiate the past and the future? What versions of reality are being imagined by realist art? What are the politics, philosophies and mythologies behind this reification, this making real?

By bringing together scholarship on art from across the world and spanning over two centuries this conference aims to widen the lens through which realism is currently understood and to conceptualise planetary realisms. We are also interested in receiving proposals for papers which disrupt or challenge the period parameters of this project as we have indicated them, recognising that realisms pre-existed and cut across (and even outlast) western chronologies.

Papers might address works of art of any medium, as well as theories and philosophies of art. Please send a title and abstract of your proposed paper (around 300 words) to Rachel Stratton (Rachel.Esther.Stratton@gmail.com) and Thomas Hughes (Thomas.Hughes@courtauld.ac.uk) by 16th November, 2020.

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We are assembling an online reading group in conjunction with this conference.  While the global pandemic has physically grounded many of us it has opened up opportunities for online conversations across international boundaries, which will prove essential for the mission of this project. We warmly extend invitations to join and would ask you to recommend readings considering the above and related topics. If you are interested please email Rachel and Thomas.

Specialist Workshop: “Golden Age Art and Globalization in Madrid’s Museums”, Madrid, Spain, September 2–12, 2019

Specialist Workshop “Golden Age Art and Globalization in Madrid’s Museums”
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, September 2–12 2019
Deadline for applications: Jun 2, 2019

Many of the objects that are admired today in Spain’s major museums arrived here in the Early Modern period. Collections of art,  
artifacts, and objects—everythig from paintings and sculptures to armor, textiles, feathers, books, exotic shells and even animal horns transmitted a variety of meanings, many of which are lost to the average museum visitor today.

Understanding these objects (their origins, how they arrived and how they were seen) introduces students to a deeper appreciation of how Spanish history and identity has been and is created in relationship with the rest of the world, and especially with Spanish-speaking  America and Asia.  The course will explore these issues using ten selected objects that will provide a view of early globalization focusing on questions raised by the objects themselves.  One of the topics to analyze will be the relationship of art to diplomacy, seeking to shed light on the value of paintings of distant places, peoples and animals as “proof” or “document” in the age before photography, or the place of “the others” (non-Europeans) in the history of Spanish and European societies in general, both in the past and in today’s globalized and multicultural world.  Attention will also be paid to questions such as commerce, consumption, religion, and  gender in a world of travelling objects and persons, always with an emphasis on elucidating how these travels created new meanings for objects in new contexts.

This course has a practical, object-based character, with practically all of the sessions taking place in museums, libraries and other collections in Madrid and its surroundings.  Presentations and discussions will take place in fromt of the objects themselves.  This experience will help students to work with objects and to be aware of the material aspects of globalization, further from what is expressed in academic texts and articles. It is expected too that all will feel  something of the fascination and intrigue experienced by contemporaries who saw these things for the first time.

For further details and inscriptions:  
http://formacioncontinua.uam.es/33421/detail/golden-age-art-and-globalization-in-madrids-museums.html

For enquiries, please contact:
mcruz.decarlos@uam.es / elena.alcala@uam.es / isabel.cervera@uam.es