Art History for Artists: Interactions Between Scholarly Discourse and Artistic Practice in the 19th Century


International Conference


Thursday July 7, 2016 – H 3005


14.30 Registration
15.00 Eleonora Vratskidou, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Technische Universität Berlin

Introduction: Art history, a discipline rooted in practice?

I. Art history in the art school: Institutional frameworks
Panel 1

Chair: Olga Medvedkova, CNRS-ENS

15.30 Heinrich Dilly, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Christian Friedrich Prange (1756-1836) und die älteste Provinzialkunstschule Preußens in Halle an der Saale

15.55 Eric Garberson, Virginia Commonwealth University

Wilhelm Stier’s (1799-1856) architectural history at the Bauakademie, Berlin

16.20 Discussion
17.00 Coffee break
Panel 2

Chair: Olga Medvedkova, CNRS-ENS

17.30 Pascal Griener, Université de Neuchâtel

Another wolf in the sheep yard: David Sutter (1811-1880) and the teaching of art history at the École des beaux-arts in Paris

17.55 Annalea Tunesi, Independent researcher

The polymath Aleardo Aleardi (1812-1878), professor of estetica applicata alle arti at the Art Academy in Florence

18.20 Foteini Vlachou, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Defining the object of art history: Teaching at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts c. 1874-1911

18.45 Discussion
19.30 Reception


Friday July 8, 2016 – H 1035

I. Art history in the art school: Institutional frameworks
Panel 3

Chair: Andrea Meyer, Technische Universität Berlin

9.30 Bénédicte Savoy, Technische Universität Berlin

Das Museum als Ort der Künstlerausbildung um 1800

9.55 Deborah Schultz, Regent’s University London/University of Oxford

Photo archives and the role of photography in art education: The case of the Royal Academy in London in the late 19th century

10.20 Julia Witt, Technische Universität Berlin

Die Kunstgeschichte und die Reformen der deutschen Kunstakademien ab 1910. Eine unauflösliche Diskrepanz?

10.45 Discussion
11.30 Coffee break
II. Art history and the art of the present: Scholars and artists

Panel 1

Chair: Hubert Locher, Philipps-Universität Marburg

12.00 Robert Skwirblies, Technische Universität Berlin

„Die Einfalt der alten Zeiten“ und eine Bürgerschaft von Künstlern: Geschichtskonstruktion als Programmatik bei Johann David Passavant um 1820

12.25 Spyros Petritakis, University of Crete

Rudolf Steiner’s engagement with contemporary artists’ groups: Art-theoretical discourse within the anthroposophical milieu in Germany in the early 20th century

12.50 Émilie Oléron Evans, Institut d’Études Avancées, Strasbourg

Crafting the history of decorative arts: Das Kunstgewerbe in Elsass-Lothringen (1900-1906)

13.15 Discussion
14.00 Lunch break – free time
Panel 2

Chair: Hubert Locher, Philipps-Universität Marburg

15.30 Petra Brouwer, University of Amsterdam

Colliding times: The contemporary in 19th-century architectural history books

15.55 Melanie Sachs, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Kunstgeschichte für die mitlebende Kunst: Historismuskritik in kunsthistorischen Schriften um 1900

16.20 Yannis Hadjinicolaou, Humboldt Universität Berlin

‘Die Neue Sachlichkeit Rembrandts’: Aby Warburg’s Claudius Civilis

16.45 Discussion
17.30 Coffee break
Panel 3

Chair: Eleonora Vratskidou, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Technische Universität Berlin

18.00 Pier Paolo Racioppi, IES Abroad Italy, Rome

The men of letters and the teaching artists: Debating invention at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome during the first decades of the 19th century

18.25 Lena Bader, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris

Künstler vs. Kunsthistoriker? Streit der Interpretationen im Holbein-Streit

18.50 Discussion


Saturday July 9, 2016 – H 1035

3. Art history by artists: The artist as producer of art discourse
Panel 1

Chair: Eleonora Vratskidou, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Technische Universität Berlin

10.00 Claire Barbillon, Université de Poitiers

How did 19th-century French sculptors write the history of ancient Greek sculpture?

10.25 Wibke Schrape, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

From artists to art historians: Art discourse in transition in 19th-century Japan

10.50 Discussion
11.30 Coffee break
Panel II – Chair: Bärbel Küster, Technische Universität Berlin
12.00 Michael Thimann, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Kunsthistorisches Praxiswissen: Carl Wilhelm Oesterley (1805-1891) als Professor an der Universität Göttingen

12.25 Margherita D’Ayala Valva, Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa

Artists’ reading and copybook practice as a form of self-taught education

12.50 Anne Gregersen, University of Copenhagen

Artists’ collections as producers of alternative art historical narratives: The example of J. F. Willumsen’s collection

13.15 Discussion
14.00 Lunch break – free time
Panel 3

Chair: Pascal Griener, Université de Neuchâtel

16.00 Léa Kuhn, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Configuring the gaze: Matthew Pratt’s painterly in(ter)vention

16.25 France Nerlich, Université François-Rabelais de Tours

Setting new paradigms for art and science: Art history by Friedrich Overbeck and Paul Delaroche

16.50 Jan Dirk Baetens, Radboud University Nijmegen

Bruegel the Elder, Bruegel the much much Younger, and the Antwerp Raphael: The invention of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the work of Henri Leys and his followers

17.15 Discussion
18.00 Closing roundtable

Image: J.A.H. Milchsack, Kunstgeschichte im Kupferstichkabinett, Düsseldorf, 1870, pencil and ink wash, 25,6 x 32 cm. © Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf C 180

Call for Papers                                             

                    Deadline for submissions: March 1, 2016

The conference aims to examine the shaping of art history as a discipline during the 19th century in relation to artistic training and exchanges between artists and scholars. The development of art history has been associated with an array of socio-political and economic factors such as the formation of a bourgeois public, the politics of national identity and state legitimacy or the needs of an expanding art market. This conference aspires to explore yet another, less studied dimension: the extent to which the historical study of art was also rooted in an intention to inform contemporary artistic production.

The scholarship produced by the first generations of art historians in this period was intertwined with their interest in the art of their time, its quality and future development. Throughout the century many art historians made studies entirely dedicated to contemporary art and sought to provide artists with new ideals. The connection between scholarly discourse and artistic practice was also validated at an institutional level. Since the late 18th century courses in art history, along with courses in history, archaeology, art theory and aesthetics, had been systematically incorporated into the curricula of art academies, schools of design, academies of architecture and polytechnics. These spaces of art education were among the first institutional homes of art history, and played an important role in the shaping of the discipline well before the establishment of autonomous university chairs – a development largely overlooked in the history of art history, but also in the history of art education.

The historical study of art questioned academic normativity and multiplied the aesthetic models available for artists. Reacting against the growing commodification of art, many artists claimed a new role as creators for art history and for the museum, as an alternative to the market. At the same time, the influx of empirical knowledge on past art was often seen as a burden for artistic creativity. The overall reflective turn upon art and its past, tainted by the Hegelian announcement of the end of art, influenced the work of artists in multifarious ways that remain to be explored.

Three main axes of inquiry will be privileged:

1. Scholarly courses in art education: institutional frameworks.

Based on concrete cases, papers may address the training in art history, archaeology, art theory and aesthetics offered in institutions of art education and consider the artistic, political or economic considerations linked to its introduction to the curriculum. Topics of interest may include teaching approaches and goals, the media and technologies of illustration (prints, casts, museum collections, photography), or the profile of professors.

What was the impact of a systematised art historical and theoretical knowledge on academic doctrines, practical training and the overall objectives of art education? How did the particular institutional framework of art education and exposure to the problems of artistic practice affect the scholarly discourses produced in this context? Did teaching artists, architects or craftsmen generate different objects of study, focuses, methods and ultimately a different kind of scholarship to that produced at universities or in museums?

2. The art historian and the present.

Based on case studies, papers may explore the changing attitudes of art historians, archaeologists and art theorists towards their engagement in contemporary artistic production. From the 1870s onwards, primarily in Germany, such an engagement was downplayed in the name of objective and unbiased scholarship detached from practical considerations, alongside the growing academic recognition of art history and other art-related disciplines and their presence in the university. Nonetheless, the complex entanglement of scholarly discourse and contemporary art never really abated even well after this date.

A main focus of the conference is also on the extent to which contemporary artistic experimentations provided art scholars with new perspectives for evaluating past artistic achievements or for studying aesthetic experience. Papers exploring cases of fertile interactions or conflicts between artists and art scholars are particularly welcome.

3. The artist as producer of art discourse.

This section seeks to explore the reactions of artists to the emergence of a community of professional specialists claiming control over art discourse and the formation of parallel or counter discourses by art practitioners. In focus here are the reformulations of art-historical canons by artists in their works, writings or teachings, as well as their contributions to art theory, aesthetics and criticism. Especially welcome are papers that look at artists’ attempts to visualise art history and explore the concerns shared by artists and historians about the various ways of representing history.

The conference will cover the period from the mid-18th century to the first two decades of the 20th century. Cases of peripheral, extra-European or colonial contexts, as well as contributions focusing on the circulation of teaching models, discourses and actors across institutions or national boundaries are particularly welcome.

Further information:

The conference languages will be English and German.

The deadline for proposals is March 1st, 2016. Candidates will be informed within two weeks from this date on the outcome of their application. 25 minutes will be allowed for each paper. Please send proposals (max. 500 word abstract and short cv) to Eleonora Vratskidou:

Accommodation, and travel costs up to 100€ will be covered for all speakers. Full coverage of travel expenses may also be available, subject to grant approval.


Eleonora Vratskidou, Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow-TU Berlin

Related research project / Academia profile

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