Contemporary Art Histories

Day: Thursday 5 April


Sam Rose (University of St Andrews)
Emalee Beddoes (Museums Worcestershire and Division of Labour Gallery)

Session Abstract

Since Mieke Bal’s Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History (1999), art historians have increasingly
self-consciously turned to contemporary art as a means of rethinking earlier artworks and moments in the history of art. Curatorial practice has likewise made use of the contemporary art ‘intervention’ as one strategy for the revivification of older, overly familiar, collection material. But what is it that contemporary art actually does to earlier art and its histories in these cases? And are there significant shared features of the art historical and curatorial uses of contemporary art? Or are these separate projects that are isolated from, or even critical of, one another?

Looking both to art history and ‘out’ to curatorial practice and related forms of public engagement, this panel features three types of paper in order to examine these issues. First of all, it asks art historians and curators to reflect on cases of curatorial ‘interventions’, where contemporary art has been brought into the museum setting in unexpected or deliberately anachronistic ways. Secondly, it asks art historians who work primarily outside contemporary art to re-examine their material in light of a contemporary art practice, and discuss what new light the one might shed on the other. Finally, it includes broader reflections on the use of contemporary art as a means of engaging the art historical past, including overlaps and tensions between the art historical and curatorial aspects.

Speakers and Papers

Michael Squire (King’s College London) The Classical Now

Hans Bloemsma (University College Roosevelt, Utrecht University) Rethinking Giotto: Tacita Dean’s Buon Fresco (2014)

Tania Moore (The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts) Sarah Pickstone (Artist) A Contemporary Enlightenment: Angelica Kauffman reimagined’

Andrea Bubenik (University of Queensland) Contemporary Baroque?

Aline Guillermet (King’s College, University of Cambridge) Through the Digital Lens: Reconsidering painting and information

Sarah Gould (Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne) Redescribing Turner in Light of the Materiality of British Contemporary Art

Donal Maguire (Centre for the Study of Irish Art (CSIA) National Gallery of Ireland) Visualising Diaspora: Pathos of Distance at the National Gallery of Ireland

Martha Langford (Gail and Stephen A Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia University) and Philippe Guillaume (Concordia University) Images Unfolding: A conversation about making the past present

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