Exhibitions New Nations and the HUman Factor

Recordings of the CRAACE conference Exhibitions, New Nations and the Human Factor

The CRAACE conference Exhibitions, New Nations and the Human Factor, 1873–1939 took place at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris on 4–5 April 2022. Focusing on world’s fairs and international exhibitions, it looked beyond their official, state-sponsored aims and considered the role of individuals and groups in them. Who were the people who organised them, designed them, worked in them and visited them? It placed agency at the heart of the discussion. To what extent did those involved adhere to or challenge the ostensible purpose of these events?

For those who missed the conference or would like to revisit the talks, we will make recordings of the individual sessions available on Youtube for a limited time. The sessions will be posted below on this page one by one as they become available, so watch this space.

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Exhibitions New Nations and the HUman Factor

Exhibitions, New Nations and the Human Factor, 1873–1939: CRAACE conference in Paris

Our conference Exhibitions, New Nations and the Human Factor, 1873–1939 will take place at

the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris

on 4–5 April 2022.

The conference on world’s fairs and international exhibitions looks beyond their official, state-sponsored aims and considers the role of individuals and groups in them. Who were the people who organised them, designed them, worked in them and visited them? It places agency at the heart of the discussion. To what extent did those involved adhere to or challenge the ostensible purpose of these events?

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Eternal and Blissfully Unaware: Unser Land mit Unsern Augen (1949) and Austrian Cultural Amnesia after 1945

Our Artwork of the Month in April 2020 was Columbus in der Slovakei (1936), a cultural travel guide by Leopold Wolfgang Rochowanski (1888–1961) that introduced Slovak modern art, architecture and, mainly, folk culture to the unaware German-speaking reader. This post is a follow-up: though Columbus was a financial disaster, and almost drove its publisher EOS-Verlag into ruin, Rochowanski pursued the idea of publishing more travel guides of the same sort. Writing to various institutions and government agencies across Europe, he proposed travel guides to the Czech Lands, the Sudetenland, Austria, and the Netherlands in the late 1930s, all of which were rejected amid growing political tensions and a dire economic situation. However, the author eventually succeeded after the Second World War, publishing a cultural travel guide to Austria with the Österreichische Buchgemeinschaft (Austrian book club) in 1949. At this point Austria, whose population had eagerly supported National Socialism, yearned to reinvent itself in an effort to overcome the past, and officials such as Chancellor Karl Renner focused on promoting an Austrian identity that was separate from that of Germany. Against this background, Rochowanski’s second travel guide, Unser Land mit unsern Augen (Our Land with our Eyes), shows that the theme of continuity and rupture, which the CRAACE project focuses on around 1918, recurred around the historical break of 1938–1945. Given that the book had already been written in 1938 but was only published later, as its epilogue reveals, it raises some important questions about new beginnings and a lingering past, which bring to light striking continuities in Austria before and after 1945.

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Conference report: In the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire?

The first CRAACE conference, ‘In the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire? Art and Architecture in Interwar Central Europe’, took place in the Moravian Gallery, Brno, from 12 to 14 September 2019. With three keynote speakers, five sessions and fifteen papers, the event explored the topic of continuities and ruptures in post-Habsburg Central European art history from several angles, sparking many engaging discussions. This brief report below can only highlight a few of the wider topics that emerged in the course of the three days. (The conference programme can be accessed here.)

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Artwork of the Month, September 2019: Design for a lookout tower in Prague by Jiří Hrubý (1937)

 “See! A vertical from steel of 1000 meters! This was made by Czech hands! Look out from above the clouds! This is the Czech land, our homeland!”[1]

In 1937, the Czechoslovak government, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of businesses decided to host an international exhibition in Prague, scheduled to take place in 1942. The plan was published and immediately attracted the attention of a host of individuals and institutions. Part of the bid was a proposal to build a lookout tower which would be located on a hill in northern Prague and be 1000 meters high. The estimated price was a staggering 65,000,000 crowns; to put this amount into context, an average monthly salary at the time was 764 crowns. However excessive the idea may seem, the design was very well thought through and an elaborate rationale was provided.

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