Crossing Borders; Constructing Canons: Post-Impressionism in Britain, America and Beyond

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Crossing Borders; Constructing Canons: Post-Impressionism in Britain, America and Beyond

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London

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Poster Manet and the Post-Impressionists, Grafton Galleries 1910

Organised by

  • David Peters Corbett - Professor of American Art and Director of the Centre for American Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Elizabeth Childs - Steinberg Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis
  • Anna Gruetzner Robins - Professor Emerita, University of Reading

CALL FOR PAPERS

“Post-Impressionism,” a term invented and used by Roger Fry in the exhibition he organized in London in 1910, became a deeply influential critical and historical construct that was (and sometimes is still) used widely in Britain and America.  Critics and historians often uncritically  deployed the highly selective,  Franco-centric and exclusively male model that emerged from the writing on Fry’s two post-impressionist exhibitions that  privileged Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso , who were regarded as a natural group and Seurat was soon added to the list The currency, significance and lasting impact of this canon of foundational artists on subsequent generations of art practice, criticism, art historical education and the marketing, collecting  and exhibition of modern art in these two countries has been insufficiently examined. We seek to make fresh comparative and discursive analysis of the substantial impact and pervasive reception of this critical strain of modern art in Britain and America and beyond. Topics might include:

  1. Exhibition Cultures: early group exhibitions of these canonical artists and their subsequent impact. These exhibitions may have been held in galleries, museums, or any significant alternative space. Of central interest here as well is the impact of dealers and the art market on the presentation, collection and circulation of work by these artists. Exhibitions beyond the scope of Britain and America are welcome; the presentation of these artists in Germany, Scandinavia, or the non-European world would also be of great interest.
  2. Critical Practices: the writing on post-impressionism in Britain and the interconnecting definitions of post-impressionism and modern art that emerged in America including the critical reception of Fry’s artists, and the cementing of the reputation of Cézanne as the father of modern art, Gauguin as the savage, Van Gogh as the mad artist, Matisse as the child, and Picasso as genius.
  3. Post-Impressionist networks of American and British artists: the transnational legacy and the reception of Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Seurat by early twentieth-century American and British artists.
  4. Museum cultures: the collection and display of Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Seurat to include the formation and display of the Courtauld Collection, the Barnes Collection, and the collection formed by Alfred Barr at the Museum of Modern Art. Other museums are of interest as well.

We see this a ground-breaking conference and we aim to publish the papers.

Proposals of approximately one page should be sent to both Elizabeth Childs, Steinberg Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, ecchilds@wustl.edu and Anna Gruetzner Robins , Professor Emerita, University of Reading, A.E.GruetznerRobins@reading.ac.uk  Proposals are due by December 31, 2019 ; speakers will be notified of a decision by mid-January.

This conference is sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

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