OPEN CALL | Crossing Over: Women Artists, Abstraction, and Travel in Postwar Rome (1950s-1970s)

  • Region: International
  • Type: Symposium
  • Cost: Free

Thinking through the nature of individual artistic trajectories, as well as the geopolitical circumstances determining artistic production in Italy of the time, this symposium considers Rome as a transnational contact zone for abstract women artists in the decades following the Second World War, from the 1950s through the 1970s. For instance, the English painter Sandra Blow enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti as early as 1947, committing fully to abstract painting upon her return to the UK in 1950. Other women abstract artists who lived in Rome for various periods of time over the following decades include Mira Brtka and Milena Čubraković from former Yugoslavia, Gencay Kasapçi from Turkey, Marcia Hafif from the US, Bertina Lopes from Mozambique, and Carmengloria Morales from Chile. Within the broader context of its subject matter, the symposium considers such topics as the accessibility of artistic education and travel to women artists at the time, especially in view of the simultaneous trend among Rome-based Italian abstract women artists, such as Carla Accardi and Laura Grisi, to live and work abroad.

We invite proposals for 20-30 mins papers examining the work of women abstract artists living in Rome in the postwar period  from the point of view of travel, as well as postcolonial and feminist studies. We especially welcome papers dedicated to the study of women abstract artists from around the world living in Rome but are also interested to hear about the parallel analysis of Italian women abstract artists living and working abroad. We welcome proposals for papers in both English and Italian. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

– Women artists, abstraction, and travelling cultures in the postwar period

– Transnational artistic networks and politics of solidarity in the Cold War

– Art education, diaspora, and women abstract artists in Rome

– Artistic collectives, exhibition spaces and alternative modes of artistic  work

This one-day international symposium is organised in partnership with the British School at Rome by Dr Jelena Stojković, Senior Lecturer in Critical Theory at the School of Arts, Oxford Brookes University, and is supported by the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for her research project Illumination: Transnational Routes of Abstract Art in the Cold War. The symposium will take place on December 11, 2024 and will accompany the retrospective exhibition of Carmengloria Morales at the BSR, curated by Dr Daniel Sturgis, Professor in Painting at the University of the Arts London and chair of the Faculty of Fine Art at the BSR. Following the symposium, selected papers will be included in a special journal issue co-edited by Dr Stojković and Dr Sturgis in 2025. 

The symposium will take place in person (with the option for joining online) and the organisers are unable to cover travel expenses, apart from a single bursary offered to an emerging Italian art historian or curator. The organisers will waive participation fees and cover the costs of refreshments, lunch, and dinner for all speakers.

Please send your 250 words abstract and a short biography by 12pm on June 15, 2024 to For any questions, please contact Dr Jelena Stojković at

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