New article by Matthew Rampley on Writing on Modernism in Central Europe

An article by CRAACE Principal Investigator Matthew Rampley, ‘Networks, Horizons, Centres and Hierarchies: On the Challenges of Writing on Modernism in Central Europe’ has been published in the journal Umění.

In 2008 the Polish art historian Piotr Piotrowski published an article in Umění/Art: ‘On the Spatial Turn, or Horizontal Art History.’ One of a number of essays he wrote on issues in the history of central and eastern European modernism, it has become a much cited text, the metaphor of horizontal art history frequently recurring in writings on the subject. The article was the culmination of some 30 years of intense reflection on the historiography of the art of eastern and central Europe that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and its client regimes in 1989–1991. This has involved not only re-writing narratives previously shaped by the cultural politics of successive Communist regimes, or ‘rediscovering’ previously inaccessible and unknown art, but also trying to reconceptualise the relation between this region of Europe and wider European and global contexts. For Piotrowski, despite the enormous growth of international interest, art historians still struggle to integrate the art of eastern and central Europe into larger contexts. As a result, he argued, it still tends to be forced into an art historical framework devised around the major centres of modernism in western Europe and North America: Paris, Berlin, New York and London. Inasmuch as eastern and central Europe are seen as responding to innovations generated elsewhere, such a structure also depicts the region as backward. As Hans Belting stated: ‘Eastern European art viewed in retrospect was, compared with the art of the West, delayed most of the time.’

To continue reading the article, download it as a pdf here.

To view the table of contents of Umění 69.2 (2021), which also contains responses to Matthew Rampley’s article, click here.


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