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Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art 2023: Curating Their Legacies. The Packaging and Presentation of Van Gogh and Gauguin

In the week of 11-16 June 2023,the Research School for Art History (OSK), the Van Gogh Museum, and the University of Amsterdam invite you to participate in the annual Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar.

The aim of the Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar is to provide the opportunity to study a single yet wide-ranging subject in nineteenth-century art through an intensive one-week workshop taught by a leading scholar in the field and supported by the Van Gogh Museum. The seminar will you to important issues in the study of nineteenth-century art and provide an impulse for further research. Its aim is to encourage interest in various aspects of the discipline, and to provide you not only with factual information, but more importantly with new methodological and theoretical perspectives on this important period in the history of art.

This year’s Visiting Fellow is Prof. Dr. Belinda Thomson, Honorary Professor in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. As a specialist of late nineteenth-century French art, Thomson has written books and articles on impressionism and post-impressionism and on Gauguin, Vuillard, Bonnard, Van Gogh, and Pissarro, including Gauguin by Himself (2001) and Van Gogh’s Paintings: The Masterpieces (2007). She is a co-author of the exhibition catalogue Gauguin: Maker of Myth (2010). In addition, she was an advisory consultant and contributing author to the exhibition Gauguin, Paris, 1889 (2009–2010) at the Cleveland Museum of Art and at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. In 2015 she was made Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her work on French art and contributions to the art-historical field.

The theme of this year’s seminar will be the enduringly fascinating relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin, particularly as it played out in their artistic legacies. While Van Gogh was sceptical of ambition and felt Gauguin to be far more motivated by dreams of success, both artists were destined to achieve posthumous recognition beyond their wildest dreams. For different reasons, their reputations loom immensely large today and speak to contemporary critical issues; their ‘brands’ are subject to manipulation from many directions.  Van Gogh has, arguably, never been more popular, thanks to the immersive exhibition currently on tour which invites viewers to enter into his world through his words combined with his images, technically enhanced. Whether this is an example of commercialised hagiography or a legitimate inclusive outreach to new audiences, it certainly goes well beyond anything Van Gogh could have envisaged. Gauguin’s paintings fetch record sums on the art market yet his personal reputation veers from high to low depending on the point of view of the beholder. International scholars discover nuance and complexity in his art’s diversity and surprisingly advanced and wide-ranging thinking in his writings, yet contemporary artists from the Pacific roundly critique what they see as his imagery’s reductive legacy in their islands and so-called ‘cancel culture’ would dismiss him based on assumptions of immorality or paedophilia.

Over the course of the week’s study, we will look at how all this began. Although around 1900 there were no recognized career paths in public relations or reputational management; rather, different actors promoted Van Gogh’s and Gauguin’s achievements and influenced how audiences came to terms with them. During the seminar we will return to the first words and images available at the start of the process of forging these two intertwined reputations, asking who these agents were, how the artists’ stories were framed and whose interests were served. Concentrating on the period 1889-1906 and looking at specific comparisons of individual works and their fluctuating fortunes and market values, we will seek to chart the artists’ changes in reputation.

The seminar will consist of three sessions of three hours each, plus an afternoon excursion. A public introductory lecture will take place at the Van Gogh Museum on Sunday, 11 June. The exact location and days of the seminar and the excursion will be announced well in advance.

Attendees will be supplied with the themes of the sessions and a list of readings in advance (mid-January). These will introduce the material and issues of the seminar.

Interested in attending? Contact Dr. Rachel Esner: r.esner@uva.nl for more information. Please also supply a short letter of motivation, stating your interest and reasons for wishing to attend. Please put “VGM Visiting Fellow” in the subject line.


Call for Papers: ESNA Conference 2023: Beyond ‘The Obstacle Race’ (1-2 June 2023, RKD, The Hague)

Rephrasing John Donne’s famous poem, ‘No man or woman is an island entire of itself’, the 2023 ESNA conference will investigate women’s interrelations within the art world and their impact on art objects and art collections.

In recent years – following waves of feminist art history in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s – the interest in women in the art world has broadened from a focus on women artists to encompass their numerous roles in the field, including as collectors, curators and critics. This, in turn, has led to an increased number of initiatives and interventions, among others, through exhibitions, collection presentations, and acquisitions, while also affecting the art market. Although this wide-ranging attention is necessary to correct historic biases and realize a more balanced and inclusive art history, past experience has taught us that once the attention wears off, imbalance recurs. So far, the response to the underrepresentation of women in the art world and art history has mostly been to either isolate them or to add them to existing structures, publications, and institution, and most often to refer to the obstacles they had to overcome (Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race). This has led to new names, new artworks, new exhibitions, new books, and separate galleries and museums, even though, from the 1970s on, various scholars have argued that the entire art historical system needs to be reconsidered.

Although we realize that for a woman in the nineteenth-century art world there were indeed many obstacles to be overcome, this conference will focus instead on the choices and possibilities women did have. Women do not live in a separate female universe, nor do they necessarily have many characteristics in common, apart from their sex. If we have learned anything in our ongoing quest for an inclusive society, it is that people live in relation to each other and create a world together. We are all individuals, defined not by a singular identity but by manifold, intersecting, and evolving features and practices. Only by studying the diverse ways in which women took up different roles in relation to others is it possible to understand not only historic and present realities, but also the dynamics of art (history). By fully taking various factors into account in our thinking about our field, by enlarging the concepts and scope of our research and exhibition practices, female actors will become a self-evident and permanent part of history.

The 2023 ESNA conference will thus take a holistic and systemic approach to women’s roles in art during the nineteenth century. We invite papers which explicitly present women makers, models, critics, dealers, museum professionals, collectors, and other mediators in relation to their historical context and within the broader art world. How did women work together with others, which networks and strategies did they use, run into, or create? And how did the situation evolve over the course of the nineteenth century?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Creation and collaboration in mixed or same-sex studios, networks and artists’ unions: partnerships/ collaborations between members of an artist-family, (married) couples, artist-model, artist-colleague, artist-teacher, artist-agent, artist-critic, artist-patron, collector-museum, etc.

How did collaboration aid women’s activities within the art world? Which strategies did they employ to create a network and to construct a space for themselves?

Manifestation and reception: the effectiveness and perception of women-only exhibitions or exhibiting, the stance and profiling of male and female critics towards female actors in the art world, professional agency versus the position or perception as an amateur.

Has historiography treated women-only initiatives differently? How were they considered by women artists themselves, and by male and female critics? How are women categorized, what language/terminology is used and by whom, and how does this criticism evolve in time and place? Are there differences between male and female critics?

Sabotage and intimidation by male or female colleagues, family members, teachers, people in dominant positions, jury members, institutions, etc. in language or deed.

How was this dealt with? Can it be used to one’s advantage?

Strategies and choices: to obtain training, study and exhibiting opportunities or attention as a woman.

What role did femininity play? Was it better to play off one’s femininity or to conceal it (cross-dressing, male pseudonyms) and act as ‘one of the boys’? How was the ‘master’s influence’ considered differently for women? To what degree was art in museums, galleries, and magazines accessible to women?

Matronage and patronage: the role of female or male collectors, donors, patrons of female (or male) artists.

Is there a difference between collecting practices by men or women? Did they choose other kinds of objects and how did they qualify them? Is there a difference in their relation to the artist? Did they present their collectibles in another way? What is the significance of the term ‘collector’ for women? How did they present themselves and were they as visible?

Methodology and sources: methodological challenges, lacunae and invisibility within archives, finding and interpreting ‘other’ sources, while formulating new questions and new perspectives.

How to avoid the traditional focus on “the obstacle race” and instead focus on the possibilities women created for themselves? How do we secure a more balanced and inclusive art history and sustainable visibility for women in the art world?

Please send your abstract (max. 200 words) and biography (150 words) by January 1, 2023 to esnaonline@hotmail.com

The scientific committee will answer all applicants by January 31, 2023.

The conference will be held on June 1-2, 2023, at the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague.

Scientific committee:

Beatrice von Bormann (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)

Maite van Dijk (ESNA: Museum More, Gorssel)

Rachel Esner (ESNA; University of Amsterdam)

Stefan Huygebaert (ESNA; Mu.ZEE, Oostende; Ghent University)

Mayken Jonkman (ESNA; RKD- Netherlandish Institute for Art History; Free University, Amsterdam)

Sandra Kisters (Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam)

Annemiek Rens (ESNA; Drents Museum, Assen)

Jenny Reynaerts (ESNA; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Fleur Roos Rosa da Carvalho (ESNA; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)

Marjan Sterckx (ESNA; Ghent University)


Live (!) ESNA event: A visit to Wanderlust and drinks

On September 8 at 2 pm, we invite you for a visit to the exhibition Wanderlust. Nederlandse kunstenaars op reis /Dutch Artists abroad 1800-1900 in the Dordrechts Museum.

The exhibition is a cooperation between the Dordrechts Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Guest curator Jenny Reynaerts, senior curator of paintings at the Rijksmuseum, will give a short introductory talk before the visit to the show. At 4, there will be drinks and bites and a chance to catch up after two years of missing each other!

In Wanderlust the canon of Dutch 19th-century art is challenged by showing paintings and drawings that Dutch artists made abroad during their many travels. As Reynaerts wrote in her overview Mirror of Reality, 19th Century Paintings in the Netherlands (Mercatorfonds/Yale UP 2019) the image of a nation of stay-at-home artists urgently needs to be revised. Travelling brought new insights and experiments, and also enabled some artists to join in foreign movements like Romanticism, the School of Barbizon, the Nabis, and Orientalism. The exhibition reaches out to wide horizons: from Northern Africa to Norway and from the Americas to Indonesia. New names will be added to your knowledge of 19th c. Dutch art, as well as surprising works from well-known artists.

This event is free of charge, but please note that you need a valid ticket and/or discount card for admission to the museum, and you need to register via the link below.

Please let us know of your attendance here

Visit to the exhibition Wanderlust
Dordrechts Museum
8 September, 2pm
Free of charge (in case of possession of a valid ticket)


Ways of Studying: Towards New Histories of Nineteenth-Century Art

On 19 and 20 May 2022, the ESNA Conference Ways of Studying: Towards New Histories of Nineteenth-Century Art will take place, organised by the European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art (ESNA) in collaboration with the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History. Tickets are now available in the RKD webshop.

In the autumn of 2020, the Van Gogh Museum, in collaboration with ESNA and the University of Amsterdam, organized a series of roundtable discussions that from various angles sought to address the question of “diversifying” the canon of nineteenth-century art and making art-historical practice more “inclusive.” The aim of these meetings, followed up in January 2021 by the annual ESNA Winter Seminar on the same topic, was to formulate concrete research strands, which, rather than simply broadening the nineteenth-century canon, would substantially change it. Ideally, these would give direction to university teaching, exhibitions, and collection building over the next five years.

It soon became clear, however, that the terms “diversification” and “inclusion” were in themselves problematic, as they imply that the current disciplinary system would remain intact. One might study art from other parts of the world or by “Other” creators, one might expand the canon, but the idea that the history of nineteenth-century art followed a certain developmental pattern, one that culminated in an avant-garde that then went on to shape Modernism, would not necessarily be affected. Instead, one might better seek to fundamentally decolonize the history of nineteenth-century art. This term, too, is not unproblematic: it has a particular historical dimension, but in recent times has come to stand more generally for a call to both recognize and challenge hierarchies in and beyond the academy and the art world, not only those resulting from concrete actions in the (colonial) past but also those linked to questions of class, gender, race, and ethnicity. Ideally, adecolonized history of nineteenth-century art would not only add new voices and objects to the existing canon but would productively mobilize the awareness of the ways in which what we study, teach, and display reflects European hegemony. Although this topic is clearly not new, even in the study of nineteenth-century art, specific recent events and debates, as well as fundamental shifts within both academia and society at large, lend it a particular sense of urgency.


ESNA Conference 2022

The annual ESNA Conference 2022, Ways of Studying: Towards New Histories of Nineteenth-Century Art, expands on this initial phase of reflection, setting it in an international context. We understand the conference as a kind of laboratory, a place for experiment and exchange. Taking a two-pronged approach, the papers will take case studies as their starting point, but also pinpoint and further explore the implications of these new discoveries for the field in general. In this way, the conference presents new information and address questions of methodology, i.e. “ways of studying”.


Programme


Information

  • Date: 19-20 May
  • Time: 13:00-17:00
  • Online via Zoom (you will receive a link after registration)
  • Language: English


Tickets


The European Society for Nineteenth-century art (ESNA) is looking for a secretary

Do you have a passion for the long nineteenth century, are you communicative and do you have organizational skills? Are you at the end of your bachelor’s or master’s degree in art history or have you just graduated? Then we’re looking for you.

ESNA is a platform formed under the auspices of the Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History (OSK) and a working partner of the RKD-Netherlands Institute for Art History. Our aim is to provide a forum to promote the exchange of ideas on European art of the long nineteenth century, support and encourage graduate research, and enhance networking opportunities for participants. We organize an annual symposium, workshops, excursions, and the invitation of visiting speakers. Although originating in the Low Countries, ESNA aims to create a broad international network for the advancement of research into all aspects of nineteenth-century European art.

The secretary is responsible for, among other things, keeping up with the mail, taking minutes of board meetings, and maintaining contact with external organizations and persons. In addition, the secretary assists the board with the organization of our events. This is an unpaid position for approximately 8 hours per month with peaks around activities. In return, you get access to a large (international) network, free access to the activities of ESNA and a working knowledge of the daily practicalities with regards to conferences, seminars etc. Due to the location of most board members, preference is given to someone from the Netherlands or Belgium. Fluency in English and Dutch is a requirement.

Are you interested or do you have any questions? Send a short motivation (about 100 words in Dutch or English) to esnaonline@hotmail.com before 1 May.


Now available: ‘Male Bonds in Nineteenth-Century Art’, edited by Thijs Dekeukeleire, Henk De Smaele, and Marjan Sterckx

Following the ESNA Conference Male Bonds in Nineteenth-Century Art in 2018 – in collaboration with Ghent University’s Research group The Inside Story: Art, Interior and Architecture 1750-1950 – an edited volume with peer-reviewed research papers is now available.

Male bonds were omnipresent in nineteenth-century European artistic scenes, impacting the creation, presentation, and reception of art in decisive ways. Men’s lives and careers bore the marks of their relations with other men. Yet, such male bonds are seldom acknowledged for what they are: gendered and historically determined social constructs. This volume shines a critical light on male homosociality in the arts of the long nineteenth century by combining art history with the insights of gender and queer history. From this interdisciplinary perspective, the contributing authors present case studies of men’s relationships in a variety of contexts, which range from the Hungarian Reform Age to the Belgian fin de siècle. As a whole, the book offers a historicizing survey of the male bonds that underpinned nineteenth-century art and a thought-provoking reflection on its theoretical and methodological implications. 


New: ECR French Nineteenth-Century Art Network

Rachel Coombes and Matthew French, PhD students in French Art History at the University of Oxford and University of Birmingham, respectively, are starting a new early career research network of scholars working on French visual culture in the long nineteenth-century.

The ECR French Nineteenth-Century Art Network will meet (roughly) once a month virtually via Zoom. It is open to current PhD and research students as well as ECR’s who have recently graduated and are making their way in the world of academia/museums/education/arts or heritage. It is global, open to those located anywhere in the world who wish to join. Feel free to join, participate and they hope to create an engaging, diverse, fun and rewarding community.

For further updates/information follow their Twitter or sign up to the mailing list or if you wish, drop them an email via ecr.nineteen@gmail.com. See their upcoming events via Eventbrite.


Programma Studiedag Historisch Interieur & Design – 28 April 2022

Dutch spoken

Het programma van de Studiedag Historisch Interieur en Design 2022 is bekend. U kunt deze vinden op hun website.

De Studiedag Historisch Interieur en Design is de verderzetting van de Studiedagen Historisch Interieur, georganiseerd sinds 2000. Sinds 2017 wordt de jaarlijkse studiedag georganiseerd door de UGent-VUB-onderzoeksgroep The Inside Story: Kunst, interieur en architectuur 1750-1950 (ThIS). De studiedag vindt plaats in Het Pand in Gent, normaliter iedere tweede donderdag na het Paasverlof (België), doorgaans einde april. Er is een continue open oproep (call for papers) voor voorstellen voor de volgende studiedag (met deadline telkens op 11 november).


Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art

The Gendering of Collecting: Women as Tastemakers and Philanthropists

In the week of 12-17 June 2022 the University of Amsterdam and the Van Gogh Museum invites you to participate in the annual Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar.

The aim of the Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar is to provide the opportunity to study a single yet wide-ranging subject in nineteenth-century art through an intensive one-week workshop taught by a leading scholar in the field and supported by the Van Gogh Museum. The seminar will you to important issues in the study of nineteenth-century art and provide an impulse for further research. Its aim is to encourage interest in various aspects of the discipline, and to provide you not only with factual information, but more importantly with new methodological and theoretical perspectives on this important period in the history of art.

This year’s Visiting Fellow is Prof. Dr. Frances Fowle, Chair of Nineteenth-Century art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland. Fowle is Chair of the Association for Art History and board member of the International Art Market Studies Association (TIAMSA), of which she is co-founder. She has published widely and curated exhibitions on French, British, American and Nordic art c.1880-1910, with an emphasis on collecting, the art market, national identify, cultural revival and artistic networks. A recent focus has been the role of women collectors of impressionism and post-impressionism, the subject of this year’s seminar.

Until recently women’s agency in the arts, both as collectors and museum patrons, has been largely overlooked. Nevertheless, their role in the early reception of modern French art was pioneering. This year’s seminar will focus on women collectors and agents in Europe and the USA, from Bertha Honoré Palmer and Mary Cassat to the Davies sisters. Preceded by a public lecture, provisionally entitled Spinsters and Speculators: Women Collectors of Nineteenth-Century Art, the seminar sessions will consider such issues as class, philanthropy, financial independence, gender bias, the role of the agent or art dealer, social networks and nationalism.

The seminar will consist of three sessions of three hours each, plus an afternoon excursion. A public introductory lecture will take place at the Van Gogh Museum on Sunday, 12 June. The exact location and days of the seminar and the excursion will be announced well in advance.

Attendees will be supplied with the themes of the sessions and a list of readings in advance (mid-January). These will introduce the material and issues of the seminar.

Interested in attending? Contact Dr. Rachel Esner: r.esner[at]uva.nl for more information. Please also supply a short letter of motivation, stating your interest and reasons for wishing to attend. Please put “VGM Visiting Fellow” in the subject line.



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