HomeImages / supports

Images / supports

Images re-vues n°13

*  *  *

Published on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by João Fernandes


S’il est juste de parler de « tournant matériel » des sciences humaines – expression par laquelle on désigne désormais une attention renouvelée portée, au cours des dernières décennies, aux objets et à leur dimension matérielle – il s’agira d’en tirer, pour l’étude des images, les conséquences au plus « ras » en s’interrogeant, dans une perspective pluridisciplinaire, sur ce que la prise en compte de leurs supports peut nous apprendre, ou nous réapprendre d’elles. La prétendue « dématérialisation » des images, plutôt que de nous détourner de l’étude de leurs conditions matérielles d’existence, doit au contraire nous inciter à redoubler d’attention à cet endroit, car elle vient rappeler que les images se définissent avant tout par leur articulation à des objets, à des supports.



In the social sciences, we can rightly talk about a “material turning point,” by which we refer to a renewed interest in recent decades for objects and their material, tangible dimension. Now is a good time to take a detailed look at the consequences this has on the study of images through a multi-disciplinary exploration of what we can learn or relearn about images if we consider their surfaces or mediums. Rather than turning us away from the study of their material existence, the supposed “dematerialization” of images should, on the contrary, encourage us to focus our attention more closely on this area. Indeed, it brings to light—perhaps once again—that images can be defined by their capacity to migrate from one medium to another, one surface to another. We therefore need to conceptualize them at that point of articulation, in their relationship to those surfaces. If, like Hans Belting, we consider images to be the “result of individual and collective symbolization” (An Anthropology of Images, 2014 [2001]), and if in addition we note the variations of substrates or mediums over time and over space, then we need to question the meeting points, the intersections, analyzing both the role the surfaces play in the process of forming and transforming images, and the role images play in the history of their forms and their mediums.

Main themes

A non-exhaustive list of suggested areas of exploration can be found below.

  •  Meyer Schapiro highlighted so well in his text “On some problems in the semiotics of visual art” (First published in Semiotics 1, 1969, p. 223-42) that the material medium did not arise straightaway as a “field,” and even less as a “foundation,” and a slow anthropological movement was needed for the surfaces we know today to be established. This implies that the relationship people have to image surfaces/mediums can be placed in history and recaptured from an anthropological perspective. How does the study of choice, processing, and shaping of the mediums/surfaces enlighten the interpretation of images for a given culture, time period or type of practice?
  • Consider an object as complex as a prehistoric painting as a demonstration of the path travelled from an unqualified surface that is the wall of a cave to conventional medium established later. Judging from the congruence that exists between asperities on the wall and the images that took shape, does that suggest that certain surfaces have served for projection from the dawn of human history? How can we understand the apparent transhistoriocity of this “imaging attitude” that seems to take root in observing the surfaces themselves? How can we understand the figurative suggestion that has stemmed from certain surfaces since prehistoric times?
  • The visual/non-visual relationship, which varies—that is what makes it interesting—in time and in space, is another area of exploration. Contrary to what the long-standing myth of “white Greece” led us to believe, antique marble works were entirely covered with paint. Under what conditions were the surfaces masked or unmasked? In European artistic culture, paintings by Monet or Cézanne or poetry by Mallarmé underwent a small revolution at the end of the nineteenth century, which brought to the surface a canvas that had until then been hidden in the figurative space “between the lines.” Can we envision these contemporary events as a whole? Furthermore, wouldn’t the specific nature of these artistic transgressions be enhanced if they were connected to other objects and other spaces where the medium, the surface, what was underneath, was uncovered? Take the graphic arts, for example, or the earlier constructivists and Bauhaus, the German Plakatstil that gave the “reserve” a role it had never held before, or even the museum, where in the nineteenth century, paintings were crowded together on the walls, only to give progressively way to a white cube, and to the necessary space between the works that is associated with it, as Brian O’Doherty demonstrated so well (Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, 2000)?

Submission guidelines

Articles (95,000 characters [15,800 words] total, including spaces, at most) should be sent

before July 15, 2015,

to benedicte.duvernay@ehess.fr and doinaelenacraciun@gmail.com, along with an abstract in French and in English (10 to 15 lines) and 3 to 5 keywords in French and in English. Proposals will be considered if they are 10000 to 12000 characters (including spaces) (1600 to 2000 words) long and are send before June 1, 2015 (NB: acceptance of a proposal does not preclude having to submit the final article to the scientific committee). 

Scientific committee

  • Jacques Aumont, professeur à Paris III et directeur d’études à l’EHESS (Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts)
  • Mieke Bal, professeure à l’ASCA (Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis), Université d'Amsterdam
  • Jérôme Baschet, maître de conférences à l’EHESS (Groupe d’Anthropologie Historique de l’Occident Médiéval)
  • Jacques-Olivier Bégot, maître de conférences à l’UFR Lettres Arts Cinéma de l’université Paris Diderot - Paris 7
  • Gottfried Boehm, professeur à l’Université de Bâle
  • Jean-Claude Bonne, directeur d’étude à l’EHESS (Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts)
  • Maurice Brock, professeur à Université François Rabelais de Tours et directeur du Centre d’études sur la Renaissance
  • Giovanni Careri, directeur d'études à l’EHESS et directeur du Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts, responsable administratif et juridique d'Images Re-vues
  • Guilllaume Cassegrain, maître de conférence à Lyon II
  • Enrico Castelnuovo, professeur honoraire de la Scuola Normale Superiore de Pise et de l’Université de Lausanne
  • Danièle Cohn, professeure d'esthétique et de philosophie de l'art à Paris I
  • Philippe Dagen, professeur à Paris I et directeur de l’école doctorale
  • Brigitte Derlon, ethnologue, maître de conférences à l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (LAS)
  • André Gunthert, maître de conférences à l’EHESS (Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts)
  • Valérie Huet, professeure d’histoire ancienne à l’Université de Bretagne Occidentale
  • Monique Jeudy-Ballini, ethnologue, directrice de recherche au CNRS (LAS)
  • Catherine Jolivet-Lévy, professeure à Paris I
  • François Lissarrague, directeur d’études à l’EHESS
  • Ivonne Manfrini, professeure d'histoire de l'art à la Haute Ecole d'Art Design/domaine arts visuels de Genève et membre associée du Centre Louis Gernet
  • Eric Michaud, directeur d’études à l’EHESS (Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts)
  • Pietro Montani, professeur à la Facoltà di filosofia dell' Università di Roma La Sapienza
  • Anca Oroveanu, professeure à l’Université de Bucarest et directeur scientifique au New Europe College de Bucarest
  • Andrea Pinotti, Maître de conférences à l'Université de Milan
  • Daniel Russo, professeur à l’Université de Bourgogne
  • Jean-Marie Schaeffer, directeur de recherche au CNRS et directeur d'études à l'EHESS, directeur du Centre de recherche sur les arts et le langage
  • Jean-Claude Schmitt, directeur d’études à l’EHESS et directeur du Groupe d’Anthropologie Historique de l’Occident Médiéval
  • Salvatore Settis, directeur de la Scuola Normale Superiore de Pise
  • Carlo Severi, directeur d’études à l’EHESS (Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale)
  • Luc Vancheri, maître de conférences à l'Université Lumière Lyon 2
  • Anca Vasiliu, chargée de recherche au CNRS (Centre d’Histoire des Sciences et de Philosophie Arabes et Médiévales) et chargée de cours à Paris X Nanterre
  • Bernard Vouilloux, professeur à Paris IV



  • Wednesday, July 15, 2015


  • image, support, histoire, art


  • Bénédicte Duvernay
    courriel : benedicte [dot] duvernay [at] ehess [dot] fr

Information source

  • Bénédicte Duvernay
    courriel : benedicte [dot] duvernay [at] ehess [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Images / supports », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, https://calenda.org/317046

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal