Call for proposals, CAA 2021, deadline April 20

It is time to begin thinking about EPCAF’s participation at the 2021 College Art Association conference, which will take place in New York City, February 10–13, 2021. As an Affiliate Society, EPCAF will be guaranteed a session at the conference. All submissions to EPCAF will be reviewed by the board of counselors who will select the panel to represent us at the conference.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words. CAA invites two types of panel proposals: “sessions soliciting contributors,” and “complete panels.” You are welcome to submit either type of proposal to EPCAF. No preference will be given to either type of submission. If you are submitting a complete panel, however, please include a list of speakers and paper topics in addition to the panel abstract. You do not need to be a member of CAA to propose a panel, but all participants will be required to be members of CAA and have paid conference fees by the time of the conference.

Please submit proposals by April 20 by sending them to both co-chairs, Lily and Raffaele, and, who will forward them to the counselors. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to Lily and Raffaele. For more information, see

CAA Calls for Papers 2020

Paper proposals for CAA are due July 2020. Please consider submitting a proposal for the EPCAF panel, organized by Dr. Sandra Uskokovic.

Politics of Art in Public Spaces
Affiliated Society or Committee Name: European Postwar and Contemporary Art Forum 

Sandra Uskokovic, University of Dubrovnik 
Email Address(s):

Post-communist countries after the fall of their oppressive regimes used to dream about a new, more human society. However, most of the EU countries as well as US– to a greater or lesser extent – have experienced neoliberal forms of capitalism that partially cutback former liberties, and through economic exploitation reduced public spaces. This increasing loss of public spaces Sloterdijk has called the “asynodic constitution” of contemporary society.In the context of crisis of democracy today, this session invites art works that react to the detrimental transformation of public space and sphere from diverse cultural and historical, discursive and socio-political perspectives. It is a pursuit that is searching for particular public areas and practices in relation to power structures of art world, looking at transnational processes of subjectification and community building.

In the time and place in which experience of public spaces is generally mediated by ownership and finances, a site is open for practices of mediation that show complex social experiences of the public space in more creative and palpable manner. By enhancing socio-political subversion of their art in public spaces, artists reacted to neoliberalization and privatization of cities, marketization of life sphere that were historically always outside market parameters, thus discerning the power of experience of the place created in public interest.

This session as a whole could be viewed as a product of shared public spatial field in which interactions of artist will produce opinions, ideas, values and practices that show and enhance new models of existence and art production in public space.

EPCAF Panel at CAA 2019 Annual Conference

Public Monuments and Sculpture in Postwar Europe

Saturday, February 16, 2019

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
New York Hilton Midtown – 2nd Floor – Nassau West

CHAIR: Martina Tanga, Independent Scholar and Curator

“Dancing on Graves: The Contested Ground of the Treptower Ehrenmal in a United Germany”
David Ehrenpreis, James Madison University

“Not Pop: Frano Angeli’s Oppressive – Visual Remembering, Interior Monument, Public Space”
Christopher Bennett, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“Berlin’s Counter-Monument Challenge”
Rebecca Pollack, CUNY Graduate Center

EPCAF at CAA 2018 Annual Conference



Time: 02/23/2018: 12:30PM–1:30PM
Location: Room 507

European Postwar and Contemporary Art Forum (EPCAF)


Panel Session:


Time: 02/22/2018: 2:00PM–3:30PM
Location: Room 409A

Chairs: Jenevive Nykolak, University of Rochester; Maria Elena Versari, Carnegie Mellon University

“Grapus: Rebranding Communism after ’68”
Sami Siegelbaum, University of California, Los Angeles

“The Central European Experiment: Art and Politics of the 1968 Prague Spring”
Eva Forgacs, Art Center College of Design

“The Unfinished Sound of ’68: Electronic Music and Free Improvisation in Rome and West Berlin”
Colin Lang, International Research Institute for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

“The 1970 Venice Biennale: A Revision in Form, Informed by Communal Aesthetics?”
Jennifer H. Noonan, Caldwell University


EPCAF – June Colloquium 2017


Time:  Saturday, June 17, 2017

Location: Parsons Paris – The New School

*When entering Parsons Paris at 45 rue Saint Roch 75001 Paris, please introduce yourself to the Welcome Desk and tell you’re here for the EPCAF 


Time:  11:30 AM—1:00 PM

EPCAF Roundtable
EPCAF members and friends can join this informal brownbag lunch to present and discuss their current research projects



Time:  01:00 PM


Time:  01:15 PM—02:15 PM

Keynote Address
Avant-garde, Art, and Criticism in Francoist Spain
Paula Barreiro-Lopez (Universidad de Barcelona)


Time:  02:30 PM—6:00 PM

Closing Remarks and Discussion”



Time:  6:00 PM

“Centre Pompidou at 40”


Blaise Gautier and the pre-history of the Centre Georges Pompidou
Rachel Stella (Independent Scholar, Paris)


Dans l’intestin du Crocrodrome : le Musée Sentimental et la Boutique Aberrante de Daniel Spoerri comme critique de l’institution muséale.Deborah Laks (Deutsche Forum für Kunste, Paris)


A propos de  Nice (1977): de-centering the avant-garde
Rosemary O’Neill (Parsons The New School)


16h-16h30: Pause


Not exotic enough? The polemics around the promotion of East European art by the Centre Pompidou. 1983-2010
Katarzyna Cytlak (Centro de Estudios de los Mundos Eslavos y Chinos, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Buenos Aires)


Des “Exposition-ateliers” au Centre Georges Pompidou
Muriel Berthou Crestey (GIS ACORSO)


The Museum as Media in the Age of Digital Spectacle
Jorge Miguel Benitez (Virginia Commonwealth University)



Organising committee:

Catherine Dossin (Purdue University)
Emmanuel Guy (Parsons Paris The New School)
Rosemary O’Neill (Parsons The New School)


2017 SECAC : “Art, a language that should unite:” The Diversity of European Postwar Abstractions


Time:  October 25—28, 2017

Location: Columbus, OH

In the catalogue of the 1948 Venice Biennale, Giovanni Ponti declared: “Art invites all mankind beyond national frontiers, beyond ideological barriers, to a language that should unite it in an intense humanism and a universal family against every Babel-like division and dissonance.” After five years of brutal conflicts and the mounting threat of the Soviet Union, the Western world was indeed in dire need of unity and solace. In this context, abstract art was often presented in the West as a universal language able to overcome national divisions and unite humankind.

But could abstract art have overcome the divisions engendered by the Second World War and the Cold War? Could American Abstract Expressionism have served as the West’s shared language against Soviet Social Realism? Even if abstraction dominated Western postwar art scenes, didn’t it assume different forms and meanings on each national scene? All the more so, since the interruption of international artistic exchanges during the War had led to independent and singular artistic developments.

Taking on these questions, this panel seeks to question the myth of abstract art universality by showcasing the diversity and richness of European postwar abstract practices that the triumph of American Abstract Expressionism has eclipsed.

Session Chair: Catherine Dossin, Purdue University.



Kay Wells 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

]Weaving Abstraction for the World: Postwar Tapestry and International Modernism

Immediately following World War II, French artists, dealers, and government officials used abstract tapestry as an international calling card. The revival of tapestry as a medium for modern art seemingly demonstrated the revival of France from its wartime hardships and its return to cultural leadership as the source of both elite luxury goods and modern art. Numerous international exhibitions of modern French tapestry resulted in projects such as the monumental tapestries designed by Le Corbusier for the High Court Building in Chandigarh, India; the Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie held in Lausanne, Switzerland beginning in 1962, which brought together the work of Eastern and Western European artists; and the production of French tapestries after works by American modernists such as Hans Hofmann and Robert Motherwell. Modern tapestry thus negotiated the politics of both the Cold War and decolonization. This paper focuses on three, ostensibly foreign, sites of modern French tapestry in order to show how ideas of abstraction were renegotiated in confrontation with Eastern European fiber artists, Indian viewers, and American critics. It argues that modern French tapestry made an essential contribution to the postwar understandings of abstraction as a universal language, precisely because French tapestry producers were unable to fully control how tapestries were circulated or defined.


Amy Rahn
Stony Brook University (SUNY)

“They regard me as an emissary of de Kooning”: Joan Mitchell in Paris 1955-1968

Canonical narratives of Postwar abstraction have enshrined the Abstract Expressionist movement as a quintessentially American phenomenon bounded geographically and temporally, yet one of its most successful “second generation” exponents, Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) left New York for France just as the movement was gaining acclaim, and continued to paint abstractly there until her death. Arriving in Paris in 1955, Mitchell explained, “[the Parisians] regard me as an emissary of de Kooning.”
In the early 1960s, Mitchell’s signature slashing strokes tumbled with floating miasmas of color in her “Black” paintings. Often read as responses to personal tragedy, inadequate attention has been paid to Mitchell’s immersion in the cosmopolitan Parisian cultural scene of the 1960s in relation to this stylistic shift. Drawing on Mitchell’s consistent correspondence, this paper examines the specific cultural and historical circumstances surrounding Mitchell’s painterly production during the 1960s, situating Mitchell’s Black paintings in her intermeshing American and Parisian contexts. By considering Mitchell and her works among her circle of nationally and ethnically diverse writers, artists, and composers in Paris of the 1960s, this work offers a view of Mitchell’s Black paintings unbound from personal biography and the dogmas of a movement that could not contain them.


Megan Pounds
Independent Scholar

(Un) Forming Nature: Kurt Schwitters’s Merz Barn (1947-1948)

This paper centers on Kurt Schwitters’s Merz Barn (1947-1948), exploring the relationship between nature and the Merz principles of formung (forming) and entformung (un-forming) within the context of this late work. The Merz Barn, the last of Schwitters’s Merzbauten, has yet to receive the extensive level of research accorded to its famous Hannover predecessor, resulting in an underdeveloped grasp of the project as a whole within Merzbau scholarship. The present study considers Schwitters’s increasing orientation towards nature as a model for artistic creation to elicit an understanding of the ways in which his paradoxical Merz formula, “Formen heißt entformeln,” evolved during his period of exile. I contend that Schwitters employed the organic processes of natural growth and decay to realize the principles of formung and entformung in his Merz Barn. Furthermore, the sculptural interior underscores the dialectical exchange between forming and un-forming, highlighting the liminal space between the opposing processes.

Travis English
Frostburg State University, Maryland

Hermann Glöckner and the Private Life of East German Abstraction

This presentation seeks to highlight the conflicted and overlooked position of abstraction within East German artistic production through the work of Hermann Glöckner (1889-1987). Glöckner’s career-long commitment to the aesthetic aims of Constructivism places his work in contrast to ideas of universalism and spirituality that dominated the language of abstraction among non-conformist artists in East Germany. In staking out a space for Constructivism, albeit a space that for most of his career was out of necessity quite private and provisional Glöckner’s work offers us a glimpse of an alternative poetics of abstraction, one founded in the rich textures of everyday material existence.  His small scale geometric constructions present the viewer with a humble exploration of materials and their aesthetic interactions that has commonalities with the work of the Zero Group in West Germany and a number of international manifestations of concrete art in the postwar period. Likewise, in looking back to the formation of Constructivism in revolutionary Russia, Glöckner’s work developed as an echo of the possibility for avant-garde artistic experimentation in line with the aims of socialism, however fraught a departure from the norm of Socialist Realism this may have been.


Elona Lubyte
Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania

Abstraction in the Wind: Kazimiera Zimblyte and Abstract Art as Existential Resistance in the Socialist Bloc

When things are thrown away/When people leave/Holes (Zimblyte, 1979)
Kazimiera Zimblyte (1933-1999, Lithuania) had developed one of the most radical veins of abstract material painting in Eastern Europe in the 1960s, effectively finding herself in the margin of official art life at the time, and staying relatively unknown to the international audiences up to this day. Having studied textile (1952-1958), the artist subsequently turned to painting and made densely covered monochrome abstractions layered with fragments of old fabric such as decom-posed jute sacking. Already radical enough for making abstract art in the Socialist Bloc, Zimblyte pushed the boundaries even further. She pursued the unprecedented experiments while creating exhibitions as installations (as when she fixed her paintings on the backs of the chairs for her first non-official personal show in 1968), actions, and environments.
The paper will focus on Zimblyte’s environments as the most radical of her experimentations in the late 1960s and 70s. During these events that took place in a private garden in Vilnius and her native countryside, the long narrow stripes of fabrics covered in paint and ink streamed in the wind and fused with nature. These unofficial artistic experimentations acted not only as the for-mal investigations continuing Zimblyte’s fascination with the sensual in the medium of painting, but, most importantly, they stood as the existential and spiritual retreat from the socially repressive environment in times when, as Vaclav Havel writes, “order without life” prevailed.


2017 CAA: EPCAF’s Business Meeting


Time:  Friday, 02/17/2017, 12:00 AM—1:30 PM

Location: Regent Parlor, 2nd Floor, New York Hilton Midtown


EPCAF held a business meeting at the College Art Association conference in New York this past February 2017. Here are a few comments addressing questions that came up in the meeting, along with the EPCAF meeting minutes, and items from the CAA Affiliate Societies business meeting that may be of interest.

In 2017-2018, EPCAF will undergo a transformation in leadership and governance. In June, the counselors will vote on new by-laws, and in the following year it will be time for several of the counselors to step down from their current positions, which are limited to 2 year periods. This means that we will be looking for new people who are interested in helping to shape the future of EPCAF.


CAA Affiliate Societies business meeting notes 

The Affiliate Society program began in 1978. There are currently 85 Affiliate Societies. There are 9,700-10,000 individual members of CAA (there was a decline in membership after 2008).

Affiliate Societies with fewer than 100 members pay $55 in dues annually.

At the 2017 CAA conference there were 25 business meetings, 46 affiliate panels, and 250 academic sessions total. This is 40% more than last year because the sessions are shorter (90 minutes instead of 150). 

If they wish, Affiliate Societies may use their business meetings as second panels, although it is undecided whether or not the time slot would be labeled as anything other than a “business meeting.” The possibility of using the name of the Affiliate Society in a second accepted panel was discussed.

It is possible that there could be theme groupings (such as 1968) at future conferences. We can write to CAA (specifically Elizabeth Schlatter to let CAA know that we would like to see thematic groupings. Otherwise, the preponderance of panel proposals on certain themes will demonstrate interest.

In the future there may be panels on Sunday, into the evenings, possibly as late as 10pm. They are talking about shortening time between sessions to 15 minutes.

They plan on bringing together clusters of affiliate societies, and facilitating online meetings among them. They are hoping to do this by next October. This will involve including an affiliate representative on the CAA board.

CAA needs to know which of our affiliate society members are CAA members. Website redesign will include a stronger presence of affiliates.


2017 CAA: European Eighties


Time:  Wednesday, 02/15/2017, 3:30 PM—5:00 PM

Location: Bryant suite, 2nd Floor, New York Hilton Midtown

The Eighties: the decade defined by an unapologetic art boom, ideological disengagement, and postmodern drift toward an alleged “end of history.” Or so the story goes. A closer look at this decade in Europe, however, suggests otherwise. The fall of the dictatorships in Southern Europe and the changes in Central and Eastern Europe accompanying the end of the cold war dramatically reconfigured the geography of the continent. New relationships with former colonies and the rise of neo-liberalism transformed the European political climate, while intensified migration complicated the perception of national identities and cultures. Technological developments also altered the form and content of communication as well as the dissemination of information.

With historical distance, increasingly accessible archives and artworks, and a wider range of art historical methods, it is now possible to address this period in new critical terms. This session looks to demonstrate that a historical reassessment of the European Eighties is a necessary step towards a better understanding of the globalization that shapes today’s art world, as well as the challenges that western democracies are currently facing: extreme far-right identity politics, the migrant crisis, and uncertainty around the future of the EU.

This session brings together three case-studies focusing on very different aspects of European art in the Eighties. All three explore the permeable frontiers of identities and geographies (through circulation, appropriation and conflict), and of mediums and categories (confronting visual arts with technology, audio-visual production and publishing practices).




Nicolas Ballet 
Institut National d’Histoire de l’art

Totalitarianism, Destruction, and Trauma: Dystopia of Industrial Music

Europe in the 1980s witnessed the emergence of industrial music bands involved in a counterculture that operated as a platform of exchange between the arts. The visual productions of industrial musicians, who were initially performers, revealed a global artistic phenomenon operating at the intersection of a multitude of media (film, music, performance). The sound works of these artists were supplemented by a rich array of visual productions: a regular practice of mail art and collage allowed industrial artists to design album covers, flyers, and magazines as a means of spreading their music to a wider audience.

The term “industrial” characterized the work of artists who, through visual and sound issues, tried to develop a critique of industry standardization and to highlight the most contentious aspects of the European post-industrial societies in a Cold War context. Some industrial artists such as the bands Autopsia, Laibach, Maurizio Bianchi, and Throbbing Gristle, working on the fringe of mainstream culture, became aware of the rise of mass media and of the new kind of power that followed an ability to manipulate crowds. These artists used a subversive iconography in their visual productions in order to reveal a form of implicit totalitarianism generated by the power of information, which was identified by the biopolitics concept of Michel Foucault.

Using several European industrial bands as a case study, this paper examines the visual productions of industrial culture, revealing how these artists explored the thematic of totalitarianism across a new kind of resistance in the 1980s.


Angela Bartholomew 
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Art on Mass Media: The Feedback Loop of ‘Artists Talking Back to the Media’ (1985) & ‘Revision: Art Programs of European Television Stations’ (1987)

In 1985 David Garcia and Raul Marroquin, artists active in Amsterdam’s video art scene, initiated a multi-faceted project entitled Artists Talking Back to the Media. The manifestation brought together artists, from Ulises Carrión and Lydia Schouten to General Idea and Hans Haacke, who sought in various ways to deconstruct notions of objectivity and neutrality in mass media. The artists re-inserted their works – many of which ‘adapted’ images from the mass media through strategies of reinterpretation or parody – into the same mass media from which they were born. Two years later, it was the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam that would step in to commission artists. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam – Nan Hoover, Gérald van der Kaap, Niek Kemps, Rob Scholte, and Stansfield/Hooykaas among others – to create works of art for television. These works aired on Dutch television in the same period that the museum reinserted itself into the art television equation by hosting the exhibition, Revision (1987), which presented art programs of European television stations.
This paper will discuss Artists Talking Back to the Media and Revision, and will suggest that this cyclical (re)institutionalization of progressive, or self-reflexive, practices is reflective of a trend that can be observed repeatedly in the 1980s.


Sara Blaylock 
University of California – Santa Cruz

Enacting the Citizen: Artist Publications in East Germany as a Counter-Public Sphere

Some thirty independent publications appeared in East Germany in the 1980s. These were all collaborative efforts, involving artists and writers, journalists and bookmakers, gallerists and art historians who organized prolific projects in a state marked by material privation and censorship. Some publications recurred as many as eight times per year; many appeared as special editions organized around thematic concepts; some focused primarily on textual works; others highlighted photography, graphic arts, even film. All violated the state’s demand for universal control of print culture. The DIY-aesthetic of these publications reflect that subversion. From methods of duplication to quality of paper to distribution strategies, publishers were as resourceful as their contributors were inventive.

This paper examines the Leipzig-based publication Anschlag as an outcome of a dynamic and evolving print culture in late state-socialism. As a co-production that involved dozens of artists and writers, the magazine crossed frontiers of medium to connect myriad publics across East Germany, the East Bloc, and beyond. In so doing, Anschlag complicated the geopolitical and ideological divisions imposed upon Europe by the Cold War. It contributed to a network of experimental artists, writers, and activists to produce a viable and dynamic counter-public sphere where new enactments of citizenship could occur. This paper considers how these publications operated within the public sphere of state-socialism. It argues that these publications illustrate a citizen agency specific to Eastern Europe in the 1980s that challenges critical or aesthetic theories from the West; particularly with regard to definitions of the public sphere.


Colloque EPCAF à Paris

EPCAF June Colloquium in Paris

Date:  Mardi, 14 juin 2016, de 09h30 à 12h30

Lieu: Parsons Paris – The New School
Room 302

*En entrant à Parson Paris au 45 rue Saint Roch 75001 Paris, veuillez vous présentez à l’accueil (Welcome Desk) et indiquez que vous assistez à la conférence EPCAF dans la salle 302 (room 302).


The first EPCAF Paris Colloquium will take place on Tuesday, June 14 at Parsons Paris – The New School. It will be the opportunity to meet, present some forthcoming publications in the EPCAF book series, and confer about current and future EPCAF initiatives.

We are particularly delighted that Fred Forest will be participating to a roundtable on what will be the first book in English on the Sociological Art Collective. The editors, Maud Jacquin and Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, have compiled new contextual and analytical essays and collected a wide range of primary sources (most translated into English for the first time), along with rare visual documentation of the Collective’s actions drawn from the artists’ archives.




9:30 AM—10:30 AM

Roundtable on Remapping France: Essays on Postwar and Contemporary Art

Rachel Boate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Sophie Cras, Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne

Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

Emmanuel Guy, Parsons-Paris The New School

Noémie Joly, Centre André Chastel, Université Paris-Sorbonne


10:30 AM—11:30 AM

Roundtable on “The Sociological Art Collective

Fred Forest, Artist

Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, Pace University


11:30 AM—12:30 PM

Open discussion on EPCAF’s present and future initiatives with a presentation of the new EPCAF website

Catherine Dossin, EPCAF’s President

Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, EPCAF’S Book Series Editor

France Languérand, EPCAF’s Artistic Director

Emmanuel Guy, EPCAF’s Counselor



EPCAF June Colloquium in Paris

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


As I mentioned earlier, this year is an exciting year for EPCAF with many things happening:


  1. EPCAF Website:

We are launching a new website:  The site was designed and created by France Languérand, a Paris based artist and a friend, who generously offered to create a more dynamic and engaging social platform for EPCAF, along with a new logo, and a new Circulaire. We are extremely grateful for all the time, energy and creativity she has dedicated to the EPCAF.

The new website is organized in six parts:

About: information on the forum and its working.

Books: information on the new EPCAF book series.

Conferences: information on past and future EPCAF events.

Discussions: links to our new Circulaire, Facebook page, and Tweeter account, as well as our new Academia research interest.

E-Resources: links to pertinent grants, fellowships, dissertations search engines, and databases.

Terms & Conditions: information on our terms of use, privacy statement, and by-laws.

As you go through the site, don’t hesitate to share with us any ideas and suggestions. And especially send us any additional resources we should add to our current list at


  1. EPCAF Book Series:

As mentioned in previous email and during our EPCAF’s panel at CAA, we are starting a book series in collaboration with AC Institute, an independent publisher based in New York. This initiative will provides scholars working in this rather heterogeneous field with a platform to develop exciting projects that will showcase both the diversity of European artistic practices since 1945 and the wealth of new scholarship that is being produced on postwar European art.

The first books will come out in the fall. At that point we will send a formal call for proposal. In the meantime, any inquiry about the book series should be addressed to the Book Series Editor at


  1. Academia Group:

For years, we have been saying how much we would like to know who else is in EPCAF, on what they are working, and be able to access their writings. Instead of creating our own database (which will require us to maintain it and update it rather regularly), we thought we could use Academia.

We thus created within Academia a “European Postwar and Contemporary Art” research interest:

I realize that not everyone is on Academia and that Academia has its problems, but for those of us who are already using Academia, we will just need to follow that research interest and use it as a keyword when we post papers. It is easy, takes no time, but it is an efficient way to connect with other scholars who share our interests.


  1. June Colloquium in Paris:

To supplement our yearly US panel at CAA, we are starting a yearly June Colloquium in Paris. The first EPCAF Paris Colloquium will take place on Tuesday, June 14 in the morning and will be hosted by Parsons Paris – The New School.

It will be the opportunity to meet, present some of the EPCAF forthcoming books, and confer about current and future EPCAF initiatives.

We are particularly delighted that Fred Forest will be participating to a roundtable on what will be the first book in English on the Sociological Art Collective. The editors, Maud Jacquin and Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, have compiled new contextual and analytical essays and collected a wide range of primary sources (most translated into English for the first time), along with rare visual documentation of the Collective’s actions drawn from the artists’ archives.


EPCAF June Colloquium in Paris

Tuesday, June 14th 9:30 am to 12:30pm

Parsons Paris – The New School.



9h30- 10h30: Roundtable on Remapping France: Essays on Postwar and Contemporary Art with Sophie Cras, Emmanuel Guy, Noémi Joly, and other contributing authors.


10h30 -11h30: Roundtable on The Sociological Art Collective with Stéphanie C. Jeanjean and Fred Forest.


11h30-12h30: Open discussion on EPCAF’s present and future initiatives with a presentation of the new EPCAF website by France Languérand, EPCAF’s Artistic Director.




Yours sincerely,
Catherine Dossin


2016 CAA : Publishing in European Postwar and Contemporary Art: New Prospects in Research and Translation

The second panel organized by Stéphanie C. Jeanjean and entitled Publishing in European Postwar and Contemporary Art: New Prospects in Research and Translation will present the new Epcaf book series. It will be the opportunity to learn about some of the books that will be coming out this year and next, and start thinking about book projects for Epcaf book series.

Since its creation in 2010, as a forum for exchange between scholars working on European postwar and contemporary art worldwide, Epcaf has organized numerous conferences and panels on this topic, in the United States and in Europe. In order to continue its mission—to ease access to the history of European art to a wider readership—Epcaf is now launching a book series combining translations into English, monographs, edited volumes, and anthologies of original documents.

This initiative aims at providing scholars working in this rather heterogeneous field a cogent platform to develop exciting new projects that showcase not only the larger diversity of European artistic practices since 1945 than what is acknowledged, but also the wealth of young scholarships on this subject. Eventu- ally, the series intends to contribute to the larger history of recent art and, beyond Europe, consider ques- tion such as: what constitutes an artistic practice based on differential contexts and historiographies of postwar art.

The panel will introduce three edited book projects that exemplified different research carried by Epcaf members. We welcome suggestions and initiatives, and seek propositions on how Epcaf can participate in a better representation of the entire European postwar and contemporary art territory.

Chair:  Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, Pace University


Rewriting the Arts in France since 1945
Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

“If you can remember anything from the sixties, you weren’t really there”
Emmanuel Guy, Parsons-Paris The New School

Rediscovering the Sociological Art Collective
Maud Jacquin, Independent curator  & Stéphanie C. Jeanjean, Pace University

Time: 02/05/2016, 5:30 PM—7:00 PM

Location: Washington 5, Exhibition Level

CAA 2016 Thursday Panel

Geometric Abstraction, Op, and Kinetic Art in Transnational Perspective

After Friday panel, please join us for drinks to continue the conversation.


2016 CAA : Geometric Abstraction, Op, and Kinetic Art in Transnational Perspective

For the 2016 CAA conference in Washington, DC, Lily Woodruff and Daniel Quiles have organized a panel titled “Politics of the Performing Eye: Kinetic Art, Op Art and Geometric Abstraction in a Trans-national Perspective.” The panel seeks to deepen our historical understanding of op and kinetic art by situating them within the theoretical and political contexts in which they developed.

During the 1950s and 1960s, geometric abstraction, Op and kinetic art flourished as international styles that linked artists across the globe. These practices were animated by socialist and phenomenological discourses that appealed to visual perception and interactivity as ways to democratize artistic culture. Eliminating elite cultural references, these artists aimed to train or stimulate perception as a gateway toward broader viewer participation. Recent scholarship has brought attention to how these rationalized visual languages became prominent outside of the North Atlantic due to the internationalization of a network of artists and collectives. Has the appeal to the eye been accompanied, however, by universalist assumptions that flatten local particularities? We encourage papers that demonstrate how geometric, Op, and kinetic practices connect or break with the historical avant-gardes, while situating their innovations with- in broader social constellations such as urbanism, cybernetics, or labor.

Chairs:  Lily Woodruff, Michigan State University and Daniel R. Quiles, School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Synthesis in Parallax
Monica M. Amor, Maryland Institute College of Art

Cosmopolitanism and Belonging in South American Abstraction
Megan A. Sullivan, University of Chicago

Op Art on the Other Shore: Masking Vision in the Revolutionary Mediterranean
Anneka E. Lenssen, Assistant Professor, Global Modern Art, History of Art Department, University of California, Berkeley

The Poetics and Politics of Light: The Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Global Cold War
John Blakinger, Stanford University

Colorful Montreal: Modern Architecture, Urban Life, and the 1960s Abstract Murals of Jean-Paul Mousseau
Nicola Pezolet, Concordia University, Montreal

Discussant:  Kaira M. Cabanas, University of Florida, Gainesville


Time: 02/04/2016, 9:30 AM—12:00 PM

Location: Wilson B, Mezzanine Level

2015 Festival d’histoire de l’art: Après la guerre. Ruines, macadam et béton : les arts face aux matériaux de la destruction et de la reconstruction

Cette table-ronde internationale et pluridisciplinaire organisée par l’EPCAF et le Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art à Paris sera consacrée à la question de la matière dans la France d’après-guerre, entre destruction et reconstruction.

Chair:  Sophie Cras. Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris


L’étreinte de la poussière : la réunion des corps et des choses dans la peinture matérialiste de l’après-guerre
Déborah Laks. Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris

De la ruine au chantier. La “deuxième logique matérielle” du béton
Christian Sander, Freie Universität Berlin

Potlatchs de destruction : poésie et cinéma de l’Internationale Lettrisme
Emmanuel Guy, Parsons-Paris The New School

Time: 05/29/2015, 11:00 AM —12:15 PM

Location: Château de Fontainebleau, Chapelle de la Trinité 


2015 CAA / The Cobra Movement: New Perspectives

Chair:  Karen Kurczynski. Univeristy of Massachusetts, Amherst 


Dotremont and Jorn: The Summer of 1948
Axel Heil. Fluid studio and art Academy of Karlsruhe

Cobra and Psychopathological art in Paris, 1950
Brenda Zwart. Zwart Projects, Amsterdam

Luc De Heusch Filming Cobra Artists at Work
Steven Jacobs. Ghent University

The Legacy of Play in cobra: Constant Nieuwenhuys and Ludic Conceptualism
Janna Therese Schoenberger. The Graduate Center, City University of New York



2014 Festival d’Histoire de l’Art: Quand les artistes contemporains se font collectionneurs de mémoires

Tandis que la culture de consommation a augmenté considérablement depuis les années soixante, les conflits politiques ont dégradé la culture matérialiste. Les artistes contemporains collectionnent des objets et témoignages quotidiens pour rassembler des mémoires collectives, et donner une charge émotionnelle aux transformations historiques.

Cette table ronde, consacrée à la collection comme stratégie artistique de réflexion historique, se propose d’examiner le travail de Sophie Calle (France, 1953), Vladimir Peric (Serbie, 1945) et Claire Fontaine (« collectif » fondé à Paris en 2004), trois artistes qui collectionnent des éléments de mémoire collective. En rassemblant des objets et souvenirs disparates, ces artistes-collectionneurs leur confèrent un sens nouveau et les transforment en symboles des bouleversements historiques qui ont marqué ces dernières décennies, de la chute du bloc soviétique à la récente crise financière. Mais loin de combler une absence, ces collections ethnographiques ne font au contraire que souligner une perte : celle de la stabilité économique et de l’identité nationale.

Chair:  Lily Woodruff 


La Collection en tant que médium : la subversion de l’archive chez Sophie Calle
Rachel Boate. NYU Institute of Fine Arts

La Collection comme une re(construction) de la réalité et de l’identité de soi
Milica Stojanov. Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade

Claire Fontaine, Rédemptions
Liam Considine. NYU Institute of Fine Arts

Time: 06/01/2014, 1:30 PM—3:00 PM

Location: Théâtre Municipal, Foyer

2014 CAA: The State of Postwar and Contemporary Art in the United States

Chairs:  Catherine Dossin and Stéphanie Jeanjean 


A Time of Synthesis : Post-Millennial Approaches to Postwar Italy
Adrian R. Duran. University of Nebraska at Omaha

Postwar German Art: The State of Research
Benjamin Lima. University of Texas, Arlington

The Problem of Europe: A critical Reassessment
Not Banai. Tufts University



2013 SECAC: The State of Postwar and Contemporary Art in the United States

Chairs:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University  and Victoria H.F. Scott, Emotory University


Hans Kock’s Early Sculpture and the Influence of Heidegger’s Ideas on it
Daria Dittmeyer, Independent Scholar, Hamburg

German sculptor Hans Kock (1920–2007) is well known for his works located in the public space of the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany. After World War II, when German artists had to find a new formal and ideological direction, he began to study architecture, but since 1948 he started studying sculpting at the Landeskunstschule Hamburg as a student of Gerhard Marcks. Symbiosis of stereometry coming from architecture and organic figure became characteristic for Kock’s work and led him to a specific abstract language of forms which was unique in the German post-war period. Kock was much interested in philosophy. He got to know Martin Heidegger, portraying him first in 1961. The sculptor and the philosopher had an intense exchange of ideas until Heidegger’s death in 1976. Their correspondence, kept by the Hans Kock Foundation at Gut Seekamp in nearby Kiel, has not been a subject of research until now. It contains valuable information about both the philosopher’s and the artist’s thinking. Dittmeyer sheds light on the development of Kock’s public sculpture in the early years, in particular the formal consequences for his art resulting from his contact with Heidegger and his own philosophic ideas.


New Rodin? Oskar Hansen, Alina Szapocznikow, and the Memorial for Auschwitz 
Lola Arellano-Weddleton, Ph. D. student, Bryn Mawr College

Between the Thaw in 1953 and the Anti-Zionist Campaign of 1968, numerous juried competitions were held in Poland, seeking to create memorials at sites of Holocaust atrocities. In the unsuccessful competition for a memorial at Auschwitz in 1957–58, chaired by English sculptor Henry Moore, Oskar Hansen’s critically regarded ‘open form’ design was only rejected after much debate, despite deviating from the socialist realist forms that predominated public sculpture at the time. In tandem with Hansen’s design, this paper considers Alina Szapocznikow’s early career as a public sculptor and her many unsuccessful proposals (among them, a proposal for Auschwitz), which are nonetheless enthusiastically considered within her oeuvre. Where Hansen drew inspiration from sculptural developments originating from Western Europe, Szapocznikow embraced socialist realist practice; though she departed from this as her career progressed, echoes of her early figurative forms can be found in her aggressively bodily later works. Moore suggested that only “a new Rodin” could have undertaken the challenge of creating a memorial at Auschwitz. As Szapocznikow enters the Polish and international canon, it is a moment to reconsider the relationship between the public reception of an artist and that artist’s participation in public memory.


Public Sculpture in Sweden 1945-1975
Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe, Senior Lecturer & Researcher, Stockholm University

This paper presents the phenomenon of public sculpture in Sweden 1945–1975, with special attention to its institutional prerequisites, meaning production and how it operates in public space. The institutionalization of public sculpture in Sweden’s welfare state combined bourgeois idealistic cultural ideas with demands for social reforms directed towards the artists and an agenda for cultural democracy concerning the public. This art ideology could easily be incorporated in the discourse of the welfare state. Analysing the referentiality of public sculpture, this paper proposes that the established notion of sculpture, defining modernist sculpture as the counterpoint of the traditional monument, is in need of critical revision. This argument evolves through a discussion of the main tropes of public sculpture in Sweden 1945–1975. The analyses demonstrate how ideology was invested in practice and meaning production as well as in the historiography of public sculpture. Conventional notions of gender and gender dichotomy as well as modernist art ideals have played an important role in this ideology. Finally, the paper discusses the ambivalent relation between a sculpture and its spatial context and insists that physical, social and cultural aspects of the spatial situation are of crucial importance to the interpretation of public sculpture.


The Existential Location: Evocations and Objects in Dubuffet’s Hourloupe Pieces
Roja Najafi, Ph. D. Candidate, University of Texas at Austin

From 1962 to 1974 Jean Dubuffet turned mainly to spatial public sculpture. This shift began with his interest in experimenting with the new sculpting material, polystyrene. Sculpting urged Dubuffet to address the ambiguities between the object and the figuration of the object. This is not the first time that Dubuffet’s art tackles the boundaries between man-made aesthetic reality and the real world. His materiality constantly engages one’s eye-body-mind in an endless commute between the abstract material and the referential figure. The Hourloupe series challenges the viewer in a new special locus: the abstruse space between evocations and objects—imaginary and real. On its most elementary level, sculpture is the exposure of our eye-body-mind with things: our being-in-the-world, as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty describe. Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception explains the ontology of the body as a “strange object, which uses its own parts as a general system of symbols for the world.” If we accept this as an idea of sublimation, the physicality of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe pieces de-sublimates the accepted aesthetic forms, especially that of a figure. This paper explores the nature of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe pieces in relation to their abstracted objective reality within the existentialist backdrop of the postwar period.


Eclipse of the Monument: Memory Sites in Post-Wall Berlin
Rachel Boate. Ph. D. Candidate, New York University Institute of Fine Arts

The wave of collective optimism following the fall of the Berlin Wall quickly gave rise to graver discussion surrounding the reunification of a nation with a divided history. With the surge in proposals for state-sponsored commemorative projects, leaders in the early ‘90s grappled with the task of erecting monuments that venerated two former “Germanys” with remarkably disparate pasts. For how can a conventional memorial speak to the incongruent historical conditions of both former East and West? While monuments historicize and memorialize the past, serving as material repositories that ossify temporal experience, memory sites operate as site-specific artworks, whose very forms echo the fragmented history they seek to evoke. By emphasizing absence and ephemera, these works of art reflect not only Germany’s divided past, but also its lack of a singular, collective memory. Reconsiderations of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Reichstag (1995) and Sophie Calle’s Die Entfernung–The Detachment (1996) explore alternative strategies to memorializing a national heritage following 1945. They operate as memories of a divided past, rather than monuments thereto. By revealing the very process of time, incompletion of history, and fluidity of memory, they unify the German people as subjects of history, regardless of East or West.


Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial: Imagination and Memory
Natasha Goldman. Lecturer & Researcher Associate, Bowdoin College

Completed in 2005, the Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (hereafter referred to as the Berlin Holocaust Memorial), designed by Peter Eisenman, was a watershed in memorial architecture. Walking around the sculpture becomes a part of the work itself, which, in turn, is a catalyst for memory. The invocation of bodily movement among stelae, in turn, triggers the possibility of memory. Here, Goldman analyzes the ways in which theorists of memory invoke bodily perambulation in order tobetter understand the function of the visitor among Eisenman’s stelae. Henri Bergson’s durée, which embraces past, present, and future, emerges as a vital concept. Paired with the walking city dweller of De Certeau, durée becomes manifest in the space of a sculpture. This text joins an ongoing debate about the role of abstraction in art after the Holocaust. Goldman hopes to show that walking “and even stumbling” on, over and through memorials, generates a flow of memory that encounters past, present and future.

Time: 11/02/2013, 8:00 AM—11:45 AM

Location: Sheraton Greensboro Hotel, Bear Creek Boardroom

2013 Festival d’Histoire de l’Art : Pour une poésie précaire et fugitive du quotidien

Dans la France des Trente Glorieuses, des artistes s’efforcèrent de capturer, voire de monumentaliser, la poésie précaire et fugitive d’une vie quotidienne en pleine transformation, posant ainsi la double question d’une possible permanence de l’éphémère et du rôle de l’art dans la société.

Chair:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University 


Le lieu de repos de la famille Welbeck de Daniel Spoeri
Jill Carrick, Associate Professor. Carleton University, Canada

La Cédille qui Sourit de Robert Filliou and George Brecht
Rosemary O’Neill, Associate Professor. Parsons The New School of Design

Mon quartier vu de ma fenêtre de Didier Bay
Lily Woodruff,  Associate Professor. Michigan State University, East Lansing

Time: 06/02/2013, 10:30 AM—12:30 PM

Location: Mairie de Fontainebleau, Salle d’honneur

SECAC 2012: Art in Three Crises: 30–70–Now

Chairs:  Ruth Erickson, University of Pennsylvania; Emilie Anne- Yvonne Luse, Duke University


The Speculative Canvas: Antisemitic Critiques of the Parisian Art Market between the Two World Wars 
Emilie Anne-Yvonne Luse, Duke University

Economic historians readily acknowledge that the regulation of speculative finance in France has historically been a matter of instrumental politics rather than the straightforward application of law. For example, after the polarizing Dreyfus affair, unfounded accusations of “illicit” speculation were at the core of antisemitic campaigns in the popular press, while conspiratorial cries of the speculative “high Semite bank” were often plied to rally working-class distrust of financial abstraction and protectionist fears of international financiers like the Rothschilds. However, in the lead-up to the 1929 financial crisis, structural changes in the Parisian art market, including a professionalizing dealer system, new investment strategies, and coincidentally, the success of a new class of foreign artists—many of them Jewish—would provide “proof” to antisemites of another example of Jewish speculation: that of modern art itself. Tracing the historical semantics of labor value and abstraction in the Third Republic, this paper explores the political valences, implicit and explicit, in the moral policing of art market speculation between the two wars. In so doing Luse shows how a criterion so often considered a hallmark of modernism—the commodity critique—was also a strategy adopted by even the most virulently anti-modern.


Art and Real Estate in the 1970s
Rachel Wetzler, The Graduate Center, CUNY

This paper considers the theme of art and real estate in New York in the 1970s, focusing on several artists’ projects that take real estate as their subject and, in some cases, primary material. In a period of severe economic crisis, in which the city of New York was on the verge of bankruptcy, artists such as Gordon Matta- Clark, Hans Haacke, and the collective Colab used their work to explore the relationship between urban space, capital, and power, highlighting the ways in which a consideration of urban space is inextricable from questions of ownership and transaction—issues that come to the fore particularly acutely during periods of financial crisis. Projects such as Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates” and his New York building cuts, Haacke’s “Real Estate Holdings,” and Colab’s “Real Estate Show” all use art as a means of posing trenchant questions about the financial underpinnings of the city and its failures. Given that the current economic crisis is directly tied to the real estate market collapse, and there have been global confrontations regarding the right to occupy urban space, the questions and issues raised by these artists seem particularly timely, and might offer a contextual framework for the present.


How ROCKY Neo-liberated the Individual from Industrial Precisionism
Grant Wiedenfeld, Yale University

There is no doubt that “Rocky” (1976) heralds the emerging neoliberal hero while inaugurating the prominence of sport in American cinema. Less obvious is how the film applies this ideology to the urban landscape, self-consciously denigrating Precisionism in favor of a cinematic neoclassicism. The film re-situates Sheeler’s and Demuth’s industrial Philadelphia in a narrative of class entrenchment, dehumanization, and moral decline. Monumental metal encroaches on the individual. Wage labor brings no redemption. Athletics, however, afford competitive opportunity, personal achievement, and embodied relationships. Wiedenfeld connects these protestant attitudes to sociological studies of American masculinity and de-industrialization. The epic narrative of “Rocky” offers of liberation from the daily grind. Whereas the Depression sparked a movement to social unity culminating in labor unions and state-supported heavy industry, the 1970s recession folded counter-cultural criticism into the creative destruction of late capitalism. In this new spirit, “Rocky” appropriates the mobility and introspection of postwar art cinema to revive Classical dramatic form. In Deleuzean terms, time-image reverts back to movement-image. Yet from Classical to New Hollywood, the individual’s relation to the state has changed significantly.


Alternative Art / Alternative Economies
Lauren Rosati, The Graduate Center, CUNY

In the late-1920s, the Romanian anarchist Marie Marchand opened a tavern in Manhattan. Designed by Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi, Romany Marie’s, as the restaurant was known, was a bohemian eatery, a social space for thinkers to discuss radical politics and a haven for artists who were fed for free during the Great Depression. In 1977, a collective of artists formed Colab (Collaborative Projects, Inc.) to provide a creative network and alternative financial economy for its members. Brought together by collaborative practice and a do-it-yourself attitude, and enabled by cheap rent and borrowed space, the artists of Colab organized exhibitions like the “Real Estate Show” and “Income & Wealth Show,” which critiqued the capitalist excesses of New York and the art market. In 2003, building on the legacy of artists such as Marcel Broodthaers, Filip Noterdaeme opened the fictitious Homeless Museum, an institution devoid of art, which mocked the corporatization and commercialization of the cultural establishment. Investigating these three New York “alternative” art spaces as case studies, Rosati’s paper explores the relationships between financial and social “depressions” and cultural economy and the ways in which countercultural arts projects responded to economic crisis in the 1930s, 1970s and 2000s.


Time: 10/19/2012, 8:00 AM—9:30 AM

Location: Durham Convention Center, Junior Ballroom B


2012 SECAC: German Art after 1945 in Context

Chairs:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University  and Victoria H.F. Scott, Emotory University


Restating the Avant-Garde: Subjective Photography, 1954-1958
Chu-Chien Wei, The Graduate Center, CUNY

In 1955, Albert Renger-Patzsch asked Lucia Moholy, the wife of Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, “What do you think of Dr. Steinert? What your husband and the Bauhaus people in 1925 did much better is now being propagated as brand-new.” Otto Steinert, whose second exhibition of Subjektive Photography had recently closed with an enthusiastic reception earlier in the same year, was at this time at the height of his fame. Steinert’s postwar restaging of prewar avant-garde photography must have seemed to Renger-Patzsch nothing more than plagiarism. The present paper examines Subjektive Photography as a postwar movement in West Germany whose goal was to redeem photography as an art form and to reclaim the legacy of the experimental photography in the 1920s—considered to be the highest standard of German photography. Wei then compares Steinert’s three Subjektive Photography exhibitions in 1951, 1954, and 1958 with the 1929 Film und Foto Exhibition in Stuttgart as well as The Family of Man at MoMA in 1955. In order to understand Subjektive Photography as a response to the postwar conditions of German photography, Wei addresses two themes emerging from Steinert’s definition: the emphasis on individual subjectivity and the postwar skepticism of technology.


Postwar German art and Cultural Diplomacy: Exhibitions at the Tate and the Museum of Modern Art, 1956-57 
Jennifer McComas, Indiana University Art Museum

In 1951, art historian Bernard Myers noted that postwar German art was remarkable for “its complete lack of direct response to the conditions of the time,” a reference to the new dominance of abstraction in West German art. Several years later, museum-goers outside Germany had one of their first opportunities to view this new art, when the Tate Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented the first major surveys of German modernism in English-speaking countries since the war—albeit surveys that were limited by the politics of the Cold War. While both exhibitions concentrated on Expressionism, they included a sampling of postwar art from West Germany. Since these exhibitions functioned as mediums for cultural diplomacy (both were sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany), the selection of postwar art bears further investigation. What message did the West German government hope to convey about post-Nazi art, and what kind of narrative about German modernism did it hope to establish? Further, what aesthetic and ideological impact did the 1955 exhibition Documenta I have on both exhibitions? McComas addresses the organizers’ motivations and the exhibitions’ critical reception based on her study of documents from both museums’ archives.


The GDR at the Biennale de Paris: Between Individual Subversion and National Representation
Julie Sissia, Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art de Paris

While officially invited since 1972, the GDR waited ten years before participating officially in the Biennale de Paris. In the meantime, East Berlin–artist Hans Brosch managed to short-circuit the official GDR institutions: in 1975 his abstract paintings were shown at that international, pluralist event, causing a small sensation on the French art scene. At the Biennale 1982, the GDR confronted other nations in a common exhibition space, not as a single country in a solo show. For this artificial nation, the participation crystallized the problem of legitimating itself on the international art scene in a “national,” “closed” way, inconsistent, in appearance, with the very philosophy of the Biennale de Paris. This paper aims at giving a first impression of the complexity and diversity of “the other Germany’s” art’s presence in France. On the basis of unpublished French and German archive material, Sissia shows how the presence of the GDR at the Biennale de Paris is symptomatic of a political and cultural détente but also of a turning point in the Western arts in the ‘80s, questioning the avant- gardes—not only in West Germany’s Neo-expressionism—and posing the question of a revival of nationalisms.


Ulrike Rosenbach: The German Feminist Art Movement
Kathleen Wentrack, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

The German artist Ulrike Rosenbach has received minor scholarly attention despite her prominent position as a crucial figure in the early feminist art movement in Europe and her wide exhibition history, which includes the Biennale des Jeunes (Paris, 1975), the “Künstlerinnen International” (Berlin, 1977), and the “Feministische Kunst Internationaal” (Amsterdam, 1978). Rosenbach took risks with her body in her video and performance art work, interrogating traditional images of women as well as accepted norms of female behavior. The artist studied under Joseph Beuys in the late 1960s, exhibited in shows curated by Lucy Lippard, and replaced Judy Chicago teaching video and performance art at CalArts in 1975. She noted how the American feminist art scene was an integral element of avant-garde art activity that she felt was missing in Germany. Back in Cologne, Rosenbach established the Schule für Kreativen Feminismus (The School for Creative Feminism) in 1976. This paper, therefore, develops connections to European and American contexts in which Rosenbach exhibited as a groundbreaking artist among early feminist art activities in her home country to provide a broader cultural and art historical understanding of feminist art in Germany.


Refracted Histories: Parody and Authorship in the Work of Martin Kippenberger
Natalie Dupêcher, Williams College

In a 1992 interview, Martin Kippenberger declared, “History is something you need to feel. […] Everybody cheered when the wall was pulled down. That’s the wrong way to handle history.” To begin our foray into the work of Kippenberger, we might begin with the follow-up that his interlocutor declined to pose: What’s the right way? How does Kippenberger’s work act upon history? Dupêcher proposes that one way of considering this relationship is through Kippenberger’s deployment of artistic parody in certain key works. This mirroring process, which ranged in tone from acerbic to contemplative, is itself a way of restaging of the past. In gesturing behind, Kippenberger demonstrates that revisiting history necessarily constitutes a history-making process. Kippenberger did not confine his exploration of temporality to particular works, however; it was present in his very mode of artistic creation. A bombastic, outsized personality in life, Kippenberger tended toward self-erasure in his art, diffusing his presence through studio assistants and a parodic return to the past. In denying the traditionally erected binary between the modernist myth of the artist-genius and the postmodern death of the author, Kippenberger’s work affirms the co-existence of heterogeneous temporalities.


The Void: The Relationship between Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin and Arnold Schoenberg’s Opera “Moses und Aron”
Meredith Mowder. The Graduate Centre, CUNY

Architect Daniel Libeskind’s winning design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin engages with the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish population of Berlin and Germany through the creation of a negative space, or void, in the building. Libeskind has stated that one inspiration behind his design for the museum is Arnold Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron. This paper explores how the content of this opera, its subject as fundamentally concerned with the void, or absence of God, informed Libeskind’s creation of the physical, architectural void in the museum. Beyond the subject of the opera and its relationship to the architecture, this paper also discusses the aesthetics of the music with regard to the building’s form. Further, the figure of Schoenberg, as an Austrian-Jewish composer directly impacted by the Holocaust, was crucial for Libeskind’s application of Moses und Aron as an organizational principle for the building. Libeskind’s use of Schoenberg’s opera and the architectural void relates directly to the political and cultural debates surrounding the construction of the museum in Berlin during the late 1980s and issues of collective memory in relation to the Nazi Past and the Holocaust.

Time: 10/18/2012, 3:30 PM—5:30 PM

Location: Durham Convention Center, Junior Ballroom C

2012 EAMS: Paint, Pavilions, Performance, Poems and Posters: (Inter)Mediality and Postwar Modernism

This session examines the ways that materials produce meaning in the diverse field of postwar modernist arts production in Europe. Its particular focus is the negotiations between individual and collective artistic practitioners, their materials and techniques, and the foundation processes of European postwar reconstruction in the 1950s and 1960s: the aftermath and repression of World War II; technological modernization; the construction of pan-European or transnational styles in the arts amid the postwar constitution of national identities (with France the central case- study) and a nascent notion of ‘Europe’; decolonization; and political mobilization in and around 1968.

We consider how these issues became legible as material and immaterial aesthetic phenomena. Our particular interest is in the slippages and elisions between domains, whether the realm of aesthetics, philosophy, politics or the fabric of life in urban and industrialized environments. In tandem, moving past the emphasis on the transatlantic relationship and a profoundly asymmetrical understanding of the artistic relationship between Europe and the United States, we propose a more fluid, dialogic and reciprocal set of transnational artistic and political linkages, including a significant relationship with China, at the same time as productively re- conceptualizing the legacies of the avant-gardes and the complex transition to a neo-avant-garde understanding of culture in Europe.

Each paper takes a singular instance of artistic production in order to investigate the broader valences of materials and their contextual, discursive implications in the material, political environment of national and transnational concerns. From the liquid substances of paint, wood stain and tar in the case of the French painter Pierre Soulages, to the sonic and visual abstraction of Le Corbusier, Edgar Varèse and Iannis Xenakis’ Poème éléctronique at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958, the materials of theatre and performance practices in France during the ‘long sixties’, and the production of Maoist-inflected silk-screen posters during the ‘events’ of Mai ’68, this session proposes venturing into a postwar world where art’s media and materials were subject to profound pressures and in turn yielded new propositions for modernism.


Chairs:  Natalie Adamson, St Andrews, and Noit Banai, Tufts University


Imagination and Materiality in the Paintwork of Pierre Soulages
Natalie Adamson, St Andrews

This paper addresses the conceptual potential of a theory and practice of material imagination in the work of the French artist Pierre Soulages (b.1919-), as a means by which we discern the lineaments of a specifically European emphasis on materiality in postwar art. Further, a new framework for understanding the complex network of affinities and conflicts between national (French and American) and transnational (European and American) identities and artistic practice emerges when the materials and techniques of a specific practice are analysed in relation to a historical and multi-tiered conceptual architecture.

Till now, historians have focused on the parallels between the philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s ideas and the ostentatiously materialist surfaces of Jean Dubuffet’s paintings as an indication of Bachelard’s importance for the analysis of postwar French art. In an instructive contrast to the Dubuffet-Bachelard connection, the direct impact of Bachelard’s suggestive analysis of matière and the productive capacities of the imagination will here be explored in relation to Soulages’ darkly coloured, roughened, abstract paintings on canvas, bedsheets, paper, glass, and later plastic, using oils, charcoal, brou de noix (walnut stain), tar and acrylics, applied with a diverse utensil set of house-painting brushes and hand-fabricated tools. An initial catalyst for my analysis is found in the participation of Soulages in the group exhibition entitled Prises de terre, organised in Paris by the Revolutionary Surrealists in 1948 upon Bachelardian principles. More broadly, Soulages’ work negotiates the two dominant paradigms for postwar abstract art – the constructivist legacy of art concrèt and its flat-plane, geometric conjugations of forms vs. the subjective and spontaneous lyricism of gestural painting which engages the heritage of Surrealist automatism and variant forms of expressionism. In doing so, Soulages has formulated a complex theory of creative practice which is both aleatory and deliberate in its experimentation with the tradition-bound medium of paint, surface and the tools of application.

Moreover, I will argue that Soulages’ and Bachelard’s theories of creativity posit an imaginative will or drive which is submissive to the imperatives of experience and sympathetic intuition, and refuses the divide between subject and object. In the case-study of Soulages, which may usefully be taken as emblematic for the particular problems facing postwar European painting, the hoped-for outcome is an authentic form of modernist materialism in paint which is reducible neither to transcendent formalism or primal, mythic baseness.


A Synthesis of the Arts, a Dissonant Politics : The Philips Pavilion and the Materialization of Europe 
Noit Banai, Tufts University

Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the pan- European World’s Fair in Brussels (Expo ’58) is The Atomium, a structure built by architects André and Jean Polak, which became the veritable image of the celebratory collaboration between science and technology in the formation of Europe. In contrast to this dominant and uncritical representation of the relation between Europe’s cultural and political production, this paper examines another seminal building that was constructed for Expo ’58 –The Phillips Pavilion –and the vexed intersections between its materials and meanings and the processes of technological modernization, decolonization, and repression of World War II, which were foundational for European post-war reconstruction. 

The Phillips Pavilion was sponsored by the Dutch electronics company, designed by the architect Le Corbusier in collaboration with avant-garde composers Iannis Xenakis and Edgar Varèse. Contextualized by the signing of the Treaties of Rome (March 25, 1957), The Phillips Pavilion was an exemplary synthesis of different disciplines and mediums (architecture, music, and film) that also communicated the divisions and dissonances within the European political body. At the entrance, Xenakis’ electronic score “CONCRET PH” consisted of electronic sounds of crackling coal; Varèse’s sound composition, “Poème Électronique,” accompanied a black and white film made up of discrete photographs – meditating on the destiny of humanity – that was projected on the pavilion’s interior walls. Patterns of colored lights and additional images were projected throughout the space, transforming it into both an absorptive and disjunctive sound and image environment. While its original intention was to showcase the Phillip’s production line in a totally integrated scenography that would elide the company with the advanced values of modernism, I claim that it was also a staging of the conflicted aspirations and dynamics surrounding the relationship between the avant-garde and the construction of a distinctly European public sphere.


Materialist Fantasies: Questioning the Value of Art and Currency in the Era of the “New Franc”
Sophie Cras, Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne

After two inflationist crises in 1951-52 and 1956- 57, and seven successive devaluations of the franc since 1944, the French new Republic of 1958 began a profound monetary reform aimed at restoring confidence in the franc, modernizing the currency, and getting inflation under control. The most visible constituent of this reform was the introduction, on January 1st, 1960, of the New Franc, also called “Heavy Franc,” which was worth a hundred times the old franc and was based on a certain weight of gold. Although this operation was purely symbolic, it demonstrates that at this time of international monetary uncertainty, turning back to the materiality of money – a “heavy” currency, backed up by gold – seemed a reassuring protection against the immaterial threat of modern financial economy, embodied in the financial markets, and of inflation, which disconnected face value from real, purchase value.

My paper discusses the way artists at the turn of the 1960s addressed this particular moment in economic history. Focusing on the works of French artist Yves Klein and of his friend Larry Rivers, the American painter who lived in Paris in 1961-62, I show that the question of the materiality or immateriality of money paralleled modernist interrogations on the value of art. Does the value of an artwork depend on intrinsic, material worth or on supply and demand? Is there a difference between price and value? How to give a price to what is deemed priceless? These questions were especially pressing at a time when painters were experimenting with material and immaterial mediums, and when the French art market boomed at the end of the 1950s and collapsed in 1962, demonstrating the contingency of prices. I will discuss the ambivalent attitude of these artists toward France’s – vain – attempt to preserve the materiality of its currency, as a token of its legitimacy and power when both where under attack by decolonization wars and international competition.


Mao-sur-Seine: The Chairman’s Influence on the French Posters of 1968
Victoria H.F. Scott, Emory University at Atlanta 

In May 1968 artists, students, and workers came together in collectives in art schools and professional schools all over Paris and produced 500 000 posters with over 700 different designs. These posters were created to support the general strike, which was quickly gaining momentum all over France, and they were pasted up throughout the Latin Quarter—the student quarter in Paris—before being painted over, torn down, and finally cleared away by the authorities at the end of June. The majority of the posters were made using the silk-screen technique and their expressionist aesthetic, their slap-dash style, is often considered definitive proof of their revolutionary credibility. Indeed in the literature the posters are often presented as a form of unprecedented popular expression (the voice of the people). In contrast, I argue that they were modeled on a poster campaign that took place at the outset of the Cultural Revolution in China and that furthermore, that the hand-made aesthetic of the posters, which notably rejected photography, was ideologically motivated rather than merely expedient. It is not so surprising: as Mark Kurlansky has pointed out, in the sixties, while America excelled at producing hippies, France excelled at turning out Maoists.

In my paper I explain the growing popularity of Maoism in France in the sixties and link the phenomenon to certain militant artistic circles in Paris, such as the writers and artists associated with the journal Opposition Artistique (Artistic Opposition) and the Salon de Jeune Peinture (the Salon of Young Painting), bringing to light new evidence concerning the depth and breadth of the French art world’s relationship with China at this time. Addressing the ways in which Maoism and Maoist visual culture or propaganda was imported and received in France, it answers questions about the role visual imagery played in this transmission of ideology, what historian Megan M. Ferry calls the “transnational” dimension of Chinese propaganda in these years, in order to analyze its influence specifically on the production of the revolutionary posters of May and June 1968.


Time: 09/08/2012, 1:30 PM—3:30 PM

Location: Kent University, Room KS14

CAA 2012: Avant ‘68: France and the Transnational Flow of Culture in the Global “Long Sixties”

Chairs:  Noit Banai, Tufts University and School of the Museum of Fine Arts; Hannah Feldman, Northwestern University


Making Awful Music Together: The Jam Sessions of Asger Jorn and Jean Dubuffet 
Sarah K. Rich, Pennsylvania State University 

The Really Is No Substitute fir Participation! The Techno-Geographies of GRAV
Ágnes Berecz, Pratt Institute

“Les Orgues de Flandre” and the Limits of Architecture
Sean Weiss, Baruch College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Été ‘70”: The Plein-Air Exhibitions of Supports-Surfaces
Rosemary O’Neill, Parsons, The New School for Design

Elles Voient Rouge”: Women’s Art in France Before and After ’68
Rakhee Balaram, Jawaharlal Nehru University


Time: 02/24/2012, 2:30 PM—5:00 PM

Location: Concourse Meeting Room 404A, Level 2


2011 SECAC: European Art and Philosophy since 1945

This panel considers parallel developments in European art and philosophy since 1945. It examines the exchanges that took place between European thinkers and artists who often belonged to the same social and cultural circles. Our objective is to highlight the ways intellectual and artistic creations echoed and/or in uenced one another.


Chairs:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University and Victoria H.F. Scott, Emory University



Dépassement de l’art, Réalisation de la Philosophie: Guy Debord and the Revolution of Everyday Life
Emmanuel Guy, Bibliothèque Nationale de France 

Dépassement de l’art, Réalisation de la Philosophie are the titles of two artworks made by Guy Debord for an exhibition in 1963 after most of the artists of the Situationist International had been expelled and replaced by ‘sociologists.’ Starting from this moment in the history of the S.I., this paper addresses the role assigned to the arts within the Situationist Revolution of Everyday Life. Through his contacts with unorthodox Marxist theorists such as Henri Lefèbvre and the Socialisme et Barbarie Group, Guy Debord developed his critique of commodified society while pursuing the modernist avant-garde project of reuniting art and life.


A Claude Viallat and Marcelin Pleynet: Thinking About Painting as a System and Site
Rosemary O’Neill, Parsons The New School for Design

This presentation will consider Marcelin Pleynet’s writing on Claude Viallat, the artist’s acknowledgment of Pleynet’s contribution to the understanding of his work, and how Pleynet situated Viallat within a broader historical construct.


Vincenzo agenti and the Italian Response to Consumer society: “Zeroing” as Aesthetic Alienation
Laura Moure Cecchini, Duke University

I focus on Agnetti’s Macchina drogata (1968), an altered calculator that produces letters instead of numbers, and NEG (1970), a stereophonic record player that emits white noise when there should be silence, and silence when music should be playing. In “Form as social commitment” (1962), Umberto Eco criticized design because it facilitates the use of machines by concealing the hostile relations between objects and men that are a characteristic of industrial capitalism. Agnetti, however, makes these antagonistic relations immediately visible because his calculator and record player don’t function as expected. In this way, Agnetti avoids representing society as an unproblematic interaction between machine and user, and provokes in the viewer a positive alienation from society’s workings, allowing for a critical reengagement with it.


Social Theory/Social Practice: The Sociological Art collective in 1970s France
Ruth Erickson, University of Pennsylvania and Centre Pompidou

This paper considers the contemporaneous elaboration of “social art practices” by the Sociological Art Collective, a group of three artists, Hervé Fischer, Fred Forest, and Jean-Paul Thenot, who collaborated from 1972-1980. In addition to exhibiting at the Venice Biennale and Documenta, curating exhibitions, and founding a school, the collective sought new artistic forms by merging such methods as the questionnaire and interview with video, performance, and conceptual art. These artistic forms reveal the “social” not as a fixed entity but rather as an ongoing process of assembly and exchange.


Grace Notes: Artur Żmijewski’s Singing Lessons
Arnaud Gerspracher, The Graduate Center, CUNY

This paper comes from a recent course at NYU given by Avital Ronell and Slavoj Zizek titled “The Persistence of the Theological-Political.” I write about grace and the ways in which our secular understanding of the concept holds certain theological vestiges and residues.


Time: 11/11/2011, 4:00 PM—6:00 PM

Location: Hilton DeSoto, First Floor, Pulaski

2011 SECAC: With or Without C. Greenberg: Beyond Anglophone Art History

Post-WWII Anglo-American Modernism has been articulated around Clement Greenberg’s Formalism and the reactions it provoked. However, beyond the Anglophone world, either a postponed reception or a total disregard for his principles caused non-Greenbergian interpretations of post-war art movements such as Abstract Expressionism and brought di erent formulations of Post- Modernism.


Chairs:  Raffaele Bedarida, The Graduate Center, CUNY and Stéphanie Jeanjean, The Graduate Center, CUNY



The Same, Onky Different: (Greenbergian?) Binarism in Post-War Italy
Adrian R. Duran, Memphis College of Art 

This paper investigates the contemporaneous emergence of binarism as a discursive structure in both the writings of Clement Greenberg and the critical debates of post-WWII Italy. Focusing primarily on the late-1940s groups FORMA 1 and Il Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, this study will discuss the art criticism of the time as a reflection of the political climate of the Cold War.


Without Greenberg: The French Reception of abstract Expressionism, 1948-1959
Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

Clement Greenberg’s name is indissociable from Abstract Expressionism’s rise in the Unites States. But in France, where the first examples of American Abstract Expressionism arrived around 1948, his texts were not translated until 1988; his ideas little known before the 1960s. Ultimately I argue that, although Jean-Paul Sartre never wrote on Abstract Expressionism, his ideas on the United States and on art were far more influential than Greenberg’s for the original French reception of American art.


A Transatlantic Smash: Joan Mir. Between Clement Greenberg (1948) and Juan-Eduardo Cirlot (1949)
Davide Lacagnina, Università degli Studi di Siena

The arising interest in Joan Miró’s work in Europe as well as in the US, between the 1940s and the 50s, especially after the solo show held at the MoMA in 1941, is proved by the addition of two different monographs – among the first ones ever dedicated to the Catalan painter –published in English and in Spanish in 1948 and in 1949, the former by Clement Greenberg, the latter by Juan-Eduardo Cirlot. The paper will consider the impressive timeliness of both volumes and will read them comparatively.


The Politics of Italian Kitsch in the 1960s
Raffaele Bedarida, The Graduate Center, CUNY

The term “kitsch” has been used often and in various ways to describe mid-twentieth-century Italian art and design in American scholarship of the last fifteen years. In the United States, the prominence of kitsch as an aesthetic category derives mainly from Clement Greenberg’s 1939 essay, “Avant-garde and Kitsch.” Gillo Dorfles’ 1969 book, Kitsch: Antologia del cattivo gusto included the first Italian translation of Greenberg’s essay. By studying Dorfles’ book in the context of the Italian artistic discourse of the 1960s, I argue that the German term “kitsch” had a different political function: it was used to define what Italian modern culture should not be. Kitsch characterized two negative paradigms: the present Americanization and the Fascist past.


Minimalia as a Threat to Modernism. On the Absence of Greenberg in Italian Post-War Debate
Riccardo Venturi, George Washington University


Time: 11/10/2011, 10:00 AM—11:30 AM

Location: Hilton DeSoto, First Floor, Ossabaw

2010 SECAC: The Visual Arts in France after 1964?

While France greatly contributed to the development of Modern art, she seems to have hardly left her mark on Contemporary art. With the exception of Jean Dubuffet’s hautes pâtes, Yves Klein’s Anthropometries, Nouveaux Réalistes’ assemblages, International Situationist’s détournements, and Daniel Buren’s institutional critique, the visual arts created in France in the second half of the 20th century have received little attention. It is usually believed that Paris lost its avant-garde edge during the Second World War and that, after Robert Rauschenberg’s victory at the Venice Biennale of 1964, hardly anything worth remembering happened in the French visual arts. But is this true?

Taking on France’s alleged artistic exhaustion, this panel seeks to examine the country’s eventual contribution to contemporary art. This panel considers multiple aspects of the visual arts in France since the 1960s (artist, group, medium, concept and events).


Chairs:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University and Stéphanie Jeanjean, The Graduate Center, CUNY


Constructing Instability: From Perceptual to Institutional Critique in the “GRAV’s Journée dans les rues”
Lily Woodruff, Northwestern University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale

In 1966, the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) mounted a day-long series of public demonstrations of their interactive Op and kinetic works in the streets of Paris. As part of this Journée dans les rues the artists distributed a questionnaire asking their spectator/participants, “You are perhaps a member of what one calls the greater public. Could you respond to several questions in order to help define the relationship between art and the greater public?” This paper highlights the critical engagement of sociological interdisciplinarity within the GRAV’s otherwise purely visual, phenomenological research to argue for the importance of Op and kinetic art to the history of institutional critique and relational aesthetics.


The Installations of Support(s)-Surface(s): Focal Dispersion in a Collaborative Field
Rosemary O’Neill, Parsons The New School for Design

Support(s)-Surface(s) was a short-lived enterprise between artists located in Paris and Nice. Their work centered on the practice and critical interrogation of painting with the aim of generating knowledge with political, pedagogical, and social potential. The theoretical approaches of the artists were initially outlined in a 1971 manifesto in which they articulated positions against the individualistic conception of art and the fetishization of art as a consumable product. The artists focused on the materials of art making and the collective and environmental effects of their ensemble works. This paper will examine their exhibitions in light of the group’s theoretical positions and the role of key artists such as Claude Viallat.


In the Eye of the Storm: Daniel Buren’s Current Work and the Critical Limits of Institutional Critique
Jeffrey P. Thompson, Sewanee, The University of the South

Recently, when Daniel Buren ventured to situate his work beyond a critique of his institutional sponsors—Eye of the Storm at the Guggenheim and La Coupure at the Musée Picasso—critics reproached him for wishing to comply with culture industry standards and for his refusal to critique the apparatus of domination. They subsequently dismissed the work as frivolous and decorative. Because Buren’s early work was quickly absorbed into the Conceptual art category of institutional critique, it is difficult to read his current work without measuring it against the radical politics and critical values assigned to early Conceptualism. While Buren himself has never denied the aesthetic or decorative dimension of this work—apparent in his long-standing, yet conflicted dialogue with the history of Modernist painting as well as in his exuberant use of color—this aspect of his oeuvre was first ignored and later criticized. Acknowledging the full complexity of Buren’s recent work—in terms of both its critical and aesthetic positions—means breaking with the political and utopian values linked to Conceptual art.


Malaval’s Multiple Personalities: How to Be a French Artist in the 60s
Alexandra M. Cardon, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Throughout his career, Robert Malaval constructed a series of personal myths (abstract easel painter, neurotic sculptor, dandy, punk painter) as a response to the contemporary demand for artists to behave according to the ‘American’ model of the individual artist. I propose to examine how Malaval’s personal myths were not only the cause for his instable career, but also attempts to fulfill demands for the ‘new’ French artist; all of his personas can ultimately be read as a desire to escape from the prescriptive approaches to art in postwar France.


Ariadne’s Threads: Spurensicherung through Clothing in the Work of Christian Boltanski
Till Richter, University of Texas at Austin

This paper uses the metaphor of Ariadne to show how French artist Christian Boltanski employs the method called ‘Ariadne’s thread’ in his works that utilize clothes as mnemonic devices. Boltanski aims to create records, tracks and remembrances often related to the Holocaust through the use of clothes, as in his 2010 Monumenta exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. Boltanski deals with the past humanely and artistically without falling into historicism, where events are de-humanized or even debased by the emphasis on historical context in their explanation. Ariadne’s thread is a logical method for solving a maze, puzzle or ethical dilemma while creating an archive of traces.




Time: 10/22/2011, 9:45 AM—11:45 AM

Location: The Jefferson Hotel, McKinley Meeting Room

SECAC 2009: Encore un effort: Democracy & Struggle in Contemporary French Art

Chair:   Chairs: Beth Hinderliter, SUNY Collegeat Buffalo


En faveur de Sade”: Cruelty and Commitment in Post-War French Art
Seth McCormick, Western Carolina University

In post-war France, recognition of the dialectics of complicity and critique in the relation between art and terror motivated renewed artistic engagement with the legacies of the Marquis de Sade and Georges Bataille, France’s foremost thinkers of the relation between art, liberty, and cruelty. This paper examines three successive stages of this engagement: the treatment of sadism in Jean Fautrier’s “Otages,” 1942-1945, and Jean Dubuffet’s “Corps de Dame,” 1950; the détournement of Sadean themes in Situationism and Nouveau Réalisme in the fifties; and the thematics of torture in three collaborative projects of the sixties: Le Grand Tableau Antifasciste Collectif, 1960 (Enrico Baj, Roberto Crippa, Gianni Dova, Erro, Jean-Jacques Lebel, and Antonio Recalcati), Vivre et laisser mourir ou la fin tragique de Marcel Duchamp, 1965 (Gilles Aillaud, Eduardo Arroyo, and Antonio Recalcati), and the Los Angeles Peace Tower, 1966, an anti-Vietnam War monument inspired by French artistic activism in support of Algerian independence. For the authors of these projects, a Sadean aesthetics continued to offer a potent means for confronting representations of power and violence in a France suspended between the Gaullist “politics of grandeur” and the “permanent coup d’etat,” and in a world divided between media spectacle and biopolitics.


The Rhetoric of “La Prise de Parole” and the Posters of May and June 1968
Victoria H. F. Scott, The College of William & Mary

Until now the French posters of 1968 have been celebrated as an unprecedented example of spontaneous expression–a manifestation of “la prise de parole” (the capture of speech) with which the revolutionary situation is regularly associated. This representation of the events of May and June originates in a popular description of the uprising disseminated first in an article and then a book entitled, La Prise de parole, pour une nouvelle culture (1968), published directly after the events, written by the French philosopher Michel de Certeau (1925-1986). A more historical analysis of this moment, however, contradicts this widely accepted account of the insurrection and the posters. After all, May 1968 was marked by aggressive and effective governmental censorship. Moreover, the collectively created posters, which are still perceived to be completely synonymous with, if not evidence of, unfettered expression, were heavily influenced by a core group of militant Maoists who organized and lead the poster workshops. This suggests that, much like the French government’s call for “participation” in the landslide election that brought the revolt to a close, the notion of “la prise de parole,” as applied to the events and the posters, remains strictly speaking, rhetorical.


Vive l’art Révolution: Gérard Fromanger and the Revolutionary Discourse in Painting
Catherine Dossin, Purdue University

In the 1970s, Parisian artists were divided between those who wanted to paint the revolution and those who wanted to revolutionize painting. Gérard Fromanger, the founder of the Ateliers Populaires and president of the Front des Artistes Plasticiens, wanted to do both. My paper examines how he attempted to reconcile the conflicting demands of political action with avant-garde practice. It shows how his commitment to the revolutionary ideals of May 1968 led him to create works that invoke the costs and limits of the républicaine values of liberty, equality, fraternity, and secularity in contemporary France, thereby drawing an uncomfortable portrait of French democracy. It also considers how the artist successfully avoided the trap of mere political illustration by intertwining social commentary with formal investigation in works that effectively addressed postmodern concerns with representation, originality, and the exhaustion of painting. Drawing from the writings of his friends Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Fromanger realized that revolution does not only
happen on the barricades but also in discourse. I argue that their examples offered him a model for a committed critique of knowledge, and allowed him to see the revolutionary potential of deconstructing the established codes of representation.


Undermining Corpus in Nicolas Klotz’s La Blessure
Beth Hinderliter, SUNY College at Buffalo

This paper examines the problems of transnational identity in France revealed in Nicolas Klotz’s 2004 film La Blessure. Based on interviews conducted with Congolese asylum-seekers in France as well as philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s autobiographical story of his heart transplant, La Blessure attacks the notion of an integral body, individual or collective. The wound that the primary character Blandine acquires upon resisting deportation at Roissy airport becomes a literal reminder of her visibility as a target of police repression. Yet, it enables her to remain in the country and receive medical assistance. La Blessure deploys such strategies of visibility, both thematic and formal, in order to examine formations of power surrounding immigration issues in contemporary France and its participation in what Étienne Balibar has termed “fortress Europe.” I argue that La Blessure combines medicalized metaphors of a foreign object penetrating an organism. It mixes political ideas of the social body with eugenic notions of homogeneity, offering instead a porous notion of the body proper that relies upon contagion as the foundation of its being.


Time: 10/24/2009, 3:30 PM—5:30 PM

Location: City of Mobile (Alabama), Windjammer