CFP: The 7th Congress of Czech Art Historians 2021


The Czech Association of Art Historians and the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, will host the 7th Congress of Art Historians, dedicated to the subject of Infrastructures of (the History of) Art, and announce an open call for papers. The Congress is open to all colleagues working in art history and related fields.

Infrastruktury (dějin) umění
Infrastructures of (the History of) Art

Location: Ústí nad Labem
Date: September 23–24, 2021 (conference) + September 25 (excursion)

[In the event of continued restrictions due to Covid-19 an alternative date will be set well in advance.]

Please send proposals for papers (in English or Czech), together with abstract (max. 1800 characters), title, the section for which the paper is intended, and author bio (max. 600 characters) to the following address: by March 15, 2021. The final program will be drafted based on the proposals and interest in the various sections.

You can download the CFP in PDF here.

Titles and annotations of sections and their coordinators:

1. Art Museums, Collecting Art and Provenance Research in Dialogue

(Marcela Rusinko – Radka Nokkala Miltová, Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno)

Findings of recent decades demonstrate the importance of studying artistic artifacts not only in terms of their stylistic characteristics, meaning, or authorship, but also in the context of the social interactions and manipulations linked to the historical traces left by individual “objects of material culture”. Patrons, donors and collectors, along with the further institutional life that researched objects undergo all help to create an important layer of historical memory, one which is arguably still underestimated in historiography. Therefore, this panel will suggest that the history of art collecting and research into provenance performed in dialogue offer an effective interpretative tool for the examination of complex historical phenomena across methodological approaches and/or historical periods. Such historical phenomena range from questions of period taste to museum expositions built on critical discourse. The proposed way forward could ideally provide a platform for the paths of academic institutions, art museums, heritage institutes and art markets to actively meet. In this way, this dialogue could represent a route towards its intensification at the trans-disciplinary and trans-national levels.

2. The Invisible Infrastructure of Exhibitions

(Marta Filipová, Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno)

In studying exhibitions of art, history, or general exhibitions, researchers most often focus on the official infrastructure created by the organizers and curators. An exhibition is nevertheless the result of exchange between many actors, which help to shape the content, form and ideology of the event. These could be various art societies, architects and designers involved in the content and form, government representatives, sponsors, and exhibiting companies, as well as visitors and journalists. All contribute to the creation and interpretation of the meaning of an exhibition. Who exactly are these invisible agents, what is their role in exhibitions, and why are they involved?

This panel will focus on international art exhibitions as well as national participation in international fairs and regular art shows, such as biennials and triennials. It welcomes case studies which uncover the role of the often-invisible agents in organizing exhibitions, their networks and relationships in terms of exhibition practice. The panel as a whole will examine the complex infrastructure between the different interested parties in the creation, staging and interpretation of large-scale exhibition projects.

3. The Art Infrastructure of Central Europe: Cross-Border Contacts, International Exhibitions and Symposia

(Anežka Bartlová, Academy of Fine Arts, Prague – Veronika Rollová, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague)

What is the role of networks of international relations in the context of art history, and in what ways have these been formed? The panel will focus on the institutional background of such networks, whether associations of theoreticians, artists, and architects; student exchange programs; biennials and symposia; or the art trade. We are also interested in exhibitions and art shows: the main goal is to examine the topic of cultural diplomacy and the transformation of its goals and strategies over time within this framework. In what ways are political or state interests carried out through the establishing and maintaining of international relations within the context of art? For which purposes and through what various strategies have these infrastructures been deployed by artists, architects and art historians? The panel will focus not only on the dynamics of relationships between artistic centers and peripheries, but also the role of specific events at both the local and international level and the related problems and challenges.

4. Outside of Its Field: Institutions, Formats and Concepts of the History of Art Outside Established Disciplines

(Jitka Šosová, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague)

The history of art as a field generates, systematizes and performs knowledge in a specific manner. But which parts of this knowledge are used outside the field of art history? What are the institutions that utilize concepts from art history for their own purposes, and in what manner? How are these concepts used within state administration or the education system (apart from specialized art schools)? What and why is borrowed by the world of banking and investment? Above all, we want to examine the shifts that occur in the terminological and methodological infrastructure of history when an element is taken out and transposed into another context.

This section is open to researchers focused on the Middle Ages and the Modern Era as well as contemporary history, since it is a forum dedicated to the epistemological inquiry into art history and its place in present day society. We welcome contributions dealing with institutional history, discourse analysis, genealogical analysis highlighting the transformation of phenomena over a period of time, or contributions focusing on the present day.

5. Art Schools

(Johana Lomová, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague)

What is the impact of the infrastructure of art schools on the creation of art? In what ways has this infrastructure changed over time, what groups were excluded from the educational system, and alternatively, on whom did such education bestow career advantages? What is the role of the infrastructure of art schools in the writing of the histories of art? The panel is designed primarily for researchers of modern history, although we also welcome entries approaching the subject from historical perspective, or which compare recent history and the present. An important topic in this section is the profession of an artist, as defined in post-1948 Czechoslovakia (including the relationship of art academies and the Czechoslovak Artists’ Union), the impact of concrete fields of study on the future careers of artists (a typical example would be a student of applied arts subsequently pursuing a career in the fine arts), but also decentralization of university art education after 1989 and its influence on the art scene and its development. The common aim of the panel will be the discussion of the impact of the infrastructure of art education on the profession of the artist and on the histories of art.

6. Two Art Histories? Art History in Institutional Contexts

(Matthew Rampley, Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University – Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences)

Some 20 years ago the idea of the “Two Art Histories” was coined as a way of identifying the different ways in which art history is practiced at universities and museums. Although formulated at a particular moment in time, the notion arguably retains its relevance, as separate types of institutions with distinct publics, universities and museums arguably still have different priorities. This panel explores the idea of the Two Art Histories and its relevance to Central European art historical practice. It asks questions such as:

Is it meaningful to talk of two art histories in this way in the context of Central Europe?
How is it possible to describe the relations between the two types of institutions?
In what ways have their interests led to divergent art historical practices?
In what ways have they influenced each other?
Are there any features that define the relations between universities and museums in Central Europe as distinct from other countries, whether in Europe, the Americas, or Asia?

Proposals are invited which focus on specific case studies of exhibitions and research (historical or contemporary), but those addressing broader theoretical and conceptual topics are also welcome.

7. Restoration, Heritage Conservation and Technological Examination

(Jan Dienstbier – Jan Klípa, Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences)

Restoration and the related technological methods of analysis of works of fine art form one of the important types of infrastructure within the practice of art history. This has played a seminal role particularly (although by no means exclusively) in regard to the interpretation of older art. The dependence however travels in both directions – as the discourse of art history is also projected into the forms of restoration, setting their criteria and attempting to dictate how the restored work of art ought to be perceived by the contemporary audience. Contributions to this panel should therefore focus on the broad range of questions related to this issue. We especially welcome any such contributions that illustrate the ways in which approaches to restoration or technological methods have influenced and continue to shape the questions posed by art historians, as well as those asked from the opposite side, in what ways the history of art has influenced the approaches and methods of restorers, and in a broader perspective, also the preservation of monuments and heritage. In relation to contemporary reality, we may pose the question of whether the interaction of the two fields is sufficiently well-balanced, and whether there is sufficient awareness of the specific aspects of each on both sides. We also welcome case studies that can shed light on more general problems using a concrete example or material.

8. The Use of Digital Technologies in Applied Art History and Cultural Heritage

(Kateřina Horníčková, Department of Arts and Culture Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice ‑ Lukáš Pilka, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague)

This section presents projects in the field of applied art history, in particular the field of museum presentations and digital access to cultural heritage. Specifically, it will focus on projects that employ current digital technologies in the field of gallery and museum creation (digital collections, virtual museums, AR scenarios) and the digital reproduction or reconstruction of objects of cultural heritage, such as remote sensors (laser scanning), photogrammetry, GIS, 2D and 3D reconstruction, and VR and AR presentation. Projects in the field of creative industry making use of digital reconstructions of historical and art historical situations are also welcome. The section aims to open a discussion on the current and future possibilities of the use of IT in (art) museums, the preservation of heritage and art historical material in general, as well as to reflect on the experience of museums entering the virtual space as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. Copies, Reproductions, Casts, and Prints

(Hana Buddeus, Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences)

Events in recent years have once again brought into focus the importance within art history of considering the various aspects connected with remote access to original works, or “second-hand” viewership. Thanks to prints, scale models or copies of statues, various types of souvenirs and in particular photographic reproductions printed in magazines, calendars, posters, books, or posted online, art is widely circulated, stepping outside the elite environment of collections and entering new contexts. “The cathedral leaves its site to be received in the studio of an art lover” (Benjamin). The teaching of the history of art, a significant part of research, and naturally also publications to a large extent all rely on photographic reproductions, which enable us to compare works that would otherwise never come into contact with each other (Malraux). In what ways can we think about reproductions in terms of art history? This section welcomes contributions dealing with the making, nature and distribution of reproductions of various material media, of varying quality and diverse uses: ranging from copies of medieval sculptures and holy pictures to engravings, plaster casts, photographic reproductions and the slides used in teaching the history of art, as well as virtual reality.

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