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“Art lasts forever and artists are geniuses!”

« L’art est éternel et les artistes sont des génies ! »

Generally accepted ideas in contemporary art history, from the 30s to the present day.

Les idées reçues en histoire de l’art contemporain, des années 30 à aujourd’hui

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Published on Friday, December 02, 2016


À l’instar des autres disciplines affiliées au champ des sciences humaines et sociales, l’histoire de l’art n’est pas exempte d’idées reçues car elle n’est pas imperméable à la société dont elle fait partie. Elle possède par ailleurs ses propres prismes idéologiques qui, parfois, constituent un frein à l’exploration de certains sujets. 


Workshop to be held on the 8th of June 2017,  INHA (Institut national d'histoire de l'art), Paris


 Like many other disciplines related to the area of humanities and social sciences that are constructed under the strong influence of society, art history is not free from generally accepted ideas. What is more, art history bears its own ideological prisms that could limit the exploration of certain subjects. Although a researcher needs to be able to analyse phenomena through studying at an adequate research distance, total objectivity is difficult to achieve. Therefore, the focus of researchers should be on not taking for granted the ideas and analyses shared by their predecessors, and calling into question the assumptions of their contemporaries about their field of study.

The discourse of museum and cultural institutions, art criticism, as well as art history reference books or research studies, endorse some ideas that  – for lack of background and argumentation – could be considered as mere opinions. This lack of argumentation sometimes leads to preconceived ideas or truncated stories, resulting in a history of art with “missing pages.”

In order to rethink these stories and to offer innovative analysis, many PhD students care about developing their research studies using an interdisciplinary methodology, with the aim of cultivating and appropriating multi-faceted approaches for their work, as well as widening the scope of their research area. Amongst the current works about art history during the 20th and 21st centuries, mention may be made of those that tend to provide new elements for answers and to create new art narratives, by raising questions about other fields of humanities and social sciences such as economics, law, social studies, history, or political sciences.

However, the interdisciplinary approach advocated by the various authorities of academic research turns out to be quite complex to implement, because of the level of skills and knowledge it requires. The absence of necessary methodological tools and the lack of training courses for doctorate students are potentially excluding young researchers from some fields of art history research. Consequently, this interdisciplinary approach could turn into a tricky endeavor: being too bold a researcher might earn disapproval from the same academic authorities that encourage boldness.

Art history of the 20th and the 21st centuries in particular illustrate these different issues. The 20th century has seen many different ideological currents where art was used by artists, art critics, but also institutions as a vehicle for political engagement. Furthermore, since contemporary art is not immune to societal changes or to the questioning resulting therefrom, attempts at understanding it shouldn’t be hindered by the lack of time perspective. Therefore, when it comes to research, risk-taking should be an intellectual requirement.

 During this one-day event, we will welcome PhD students and post-PhD researchers in  art history whose work on the deconstruction of generally accepted ideas about art and art history contributes to writing the “missing pages” previously mentioned. Through their academic experience, they will highlight the complexity involved when trying to implement the advocated interdisciplinary approach to their research.

Communications should focus on the historical period from the 30s to the present day. For the purpose of a thorough presentation, our choices will favor a balanced representation of the different periods in the selected chronology. Comparative analysis between these two periods and works dealing with a non-Western art history are also most welcome.

We invite participants to submit communication proposals by articulating their subject through investigations relating to their research practice. This should include, among other things, the issue of interdisciplinary research and the ideological, academic or methodological limitations experienced during doctorate studies.

Main topics

The workshop will seek to explore mainly, but not exclusively, the following points:

History of art and ideological prisms

  • Origin and contemporary issues of identity narratives in art history
  • Nationalities, origins and genders : biased discourse of art history on  artists, and its possible deconstruction
  • Engagement and/or disengagement of art institutions: the ideological influence of cultural policies on art history
  • International competition within cultural institutions: political challenges, artistic issues

Art and money: ideological issues of today and yesterday

  • Gallery owners, art collectors and art patrons: "heroes" of the past, today’s “untouchables”?
  • Contemporary art and speculation: shortcuts, ideology and reality

 Research studies and methodological issues

  • Interdisciplinary courses and methodological teaching in art history: prospects for the future?
  • The requirement for historical perspective: the challenges of dealing  with contemporary art in art history
  • Obstacles encountered when choosing research subjects on fields thinly explored: the history of fashion, of tattoo art or of graffiti to cite but a few examples.

Submission guidelines

Paper proposals in French or English of no more than one page should be submitted

by the 15th of January 2017

to the following e-mail address: absolument.contemporain@gmail.com

Selected proposals will be announced in mid-February.

For any methodological or practical questions you may have, feel free to contact us.

Presentations may be considered for publication.

Scientific and organizing committee

This workshop is organized by Anna Halter and Hélène Joyeux, PhD students in art history, under the direction of Philippe Dagen (Pantheon-Sorbonne University - Paris 1/Laboratoire HiCSA). Anna Halter and Hélène Joyeux are members and co-founders of the research group Absolument Contemporain and co-organizers of the seminar « Art en cours: acteurs et pratiques de l’art d’aujourd’hui » in 2015/2016.




  • Institut National d'Histoire de l'art, salle Vasari, 1et étage - 2 rue Vivienne
    Paris, France (75002)


  • Sunday, January 15, 2017


  • art, histoire, méthodologie, marché, idéologie


  • Anna Halter
    courriel : absolument [dot] contemporain [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Anna Halter
    courriel : absolument [dot] contemporain [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« “Art lasts forever and artists are geniuses!” », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, December 02, 2016, https://doi.org/10.58079/wdf

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