Arthistorical methodologies

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Topical cross-country/timeperiod essays[edit]

Media Art Net 1 and 2 (eds. Frieling and Daniels)[edit]

  • 8 curators asked to present scientific-historic analysis of the topcis: Aestethics of the Digital (MECAD, Barcelona, Claudia Giannetti), Image-Sound-Relations (HGB, Leipzig, Dieter Daniels), Cyborg Bodies (HGKZ, Zürich, Yvonne Volkart), Generative Tools (IMG, Mainz, Tjark Ihmels), Photo/Byte (HGB Leipzig), Art and Cinematography (HfBK, Dresden, Gregor Stemmrich), Mapping and Text (ZKM, Karlsruhe, Rudolf Frieling), Public Sphere_s (ZKM, Karlsruhe, Steve Dietz)
  • Books published in 2004 and 2005[1]
  • Articles archived online, with rich image material [1]

Issue-based essays[edit]

MediaArtHistories (ed. Grau)[edit]

  • media art needs "its history, and it must be understood in proximity to other disciplines--film, cultural and media studies, computer science, philosophy, and sciences dealing with images"
  • Contributors trace the evolution of digital art, from thirteenth-century Islamic mechanical devices and eighteenth-century phantasmagoria, magic lanterns, and other multimedia illusions, to Marcel Duchamp's inventions and 1960s kinetic and op art. They reexamine and redefine key media art theory terms--machine, media, exhibition--and consider the blurred dividing lines between art products and consumer products and between art images and science images.
  • Book released in 2007[2]
  • Contributors: Rudlof Arnheim, Andreas Broeckmann, Ron Burnett, Edmond Couchot, Sean Cubitt, Dieter Daniels, Felice Frankel, Oliver Grau, Erkki Huhtamo, Douglas Kahn, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Machiko Kusahara, Timothy Lenoir, Lev Manovich, W.J.T. Mitchell, Gunalan Nadarajan, Christiane Paul, Louise Poissant, Edward A. Shanken, Barbara Maria Stafford, and Peter Weibel.
  • Articles archived online, open to other contributions [2]

Top 10 artists grouped by country + Cross-genre/country/timeperiod essays[edit]

East Art Map: Contemporary Art And Eastern Europe (eds. Irwin)[edit]

  • Irwin group chose 22 selectors from 17 countries, each was asked to select 10 artists/groups from their country (active in the period from 1950s until now) and write cca 1-page entries on each of them
  • website released in 2004 [3]
  • website structured into MAP (17 countries by 5 periods) and MOVEMENTS. periods: 1945-57, 1958-70, 1971-83, 1984-96, 1997-2004. movements: retroavantgarde (8 artists), moscow conceptualism (6 artists), anonymous authorship (11 artists), sots-art (2 artists). country not included: Moldova. users of the website are invited to propose other relevant artists/groups and these are listed as Suggested additions
  • book released in 2006[3]
  • book structured into 2 parts: Selected Artworks and Events and Essays. First includes 23 texts covering 18 countries (2x Croatia, 3x Russia, 2x Serbia and Montenegro, 2x Slovenia), the second includes 19 cross-genre and/or cross-country and/or cross-timeperiod essays.

Top programmatic and sociopolitical texts in a country grouped by time-period[edit]

Czech Art 1938-1989. Programmes, critical texts, documents. [Czech] (ed. Ševčík, Morganová, Dušková)[edit]

  • 1997 - academic research centre at Academy of Arts in Prague (VVP AVU) founded -> began to research documents and text material which have been storing in searchable bibliography database -> in 2000 launched online and included database of books, catalogues, and articles in magazines, anthologies, samizdats [4]
  • then idea of strictly selective anthology of fundamental programmatic texts of Czech art after WW II.
  • research sponsored by Ministery of education and Ministery of culture
  • soon found out it is too few of them -- and many important historical streams would be left out => idea of a broader historical and theoretical developments in Czech art, including not only programmatic texts, but also critical texts, essays, historical political documents (in order to contextualise the times)
  • 500 texts in narrower selection, out of which 200 were chosen for the book (each accompanied by one/two-paragraph annotation with sociopolitical/historical context)
  • book released in 2001[4], accompanied by online database [5]
  • book structured into 5 chapters: 1938-47 (liberal times), 1948-56 (february coup, reorganisation of fine artists union), 1957-63 (political and cultural relaxation), 1964-69 (new mgmt of fine artists union, liberalisation), 1970-89 (normalisation); plus chronology of major events in Czech art

Essays by art genre in a country[edit]

Alternative Culture. The Story of Czech Society 1945-1989 [Czech] (ed. Alan)[edit]

  • end of 1996 ~ first ideas -> evolved into series of documentaries (dir P.Slavík) -> need of a broader sociologicla and arthistorical project
  • 1997 - working group established
  • 1999 - received the grant (Grant Agency of CZ)
  • from 1997 debates in team via seminars (coordinated by Naďa Dvorská) -> refusal of chronological approach -> key themes according to cultural fields
  • then biographical sociological research -- group of trained researchers (led by E.Stehlíková) takes biographical interviews + also interviews from Film & Sociology Foundation are used
  • then analysis by cultural theoreticians and historians, and by sociologists
  • 4 problematic areas => and solutions
    • had to ignore understanding of culture in contemporary sociological/anthropological theories, and subjects of cultural studies (sociocultural and esthetical parameters of everyday, like fashion, living, fun, celebrations, urbanism, applied design) -- these would include eg. escape into the private space, so called second living, self-supplying, self-help => thus only intellectual/artistic activities and sociopolitical context are included
    • historical memory - issues of reinterpretation and reconstruction of events, activities and works (positive view of alternative scene; non-locality/ordinarity of phenomena)
    • society vs culture -- it is not possible to include both views at the same time => thus focus on relations of society and art
    • what is alternative culture? => defined as conscious diversion fromthe governing cultural streams, pushed through and supported by totalitarian regime by its power; includes underground/dissident/illegal/forbidden/parallel/independent/unofficial/semiofficial culture
  • book released in 2001[5], accompanied by CD compilation
  • structure of the book: 13 texts by 13 authors on music (3), fine arts (2), theatre (2), literature (1), film (1), photography (1), philosophy (1), and on alternative culture as a sociological topic (1)

Top documents grouped in thematic cross-country/genre chapters in a roughly chronological order[edit]

Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Easterns and Central European Art Since the 1950s (eds. Hoptman and Pospiszyl)[edit]

  • 2 editors, 2 assistents of editors (Majlena Braun, Clay Tarica), 9 consultants
  • concentration on art and theory, especially on theory
  • important issue of perception of CEE art in the West: inspired by Edward Said's text Oriental Other about 19th century's Europe, it was later expanded by Igor Zabel, Nada Beroš, Piotr Piotrowski
  • refused covering the retrospective regional assesments, monographs, arthistorical chronologies, retrospective situational analyses => but instead chose landmark texts, that labeled movements, challenged received ideas, changed the way art was made and thought about by international writers at their communities and nationally ~ focus on primary source material
  • book released in 2002[6]
  • book structure: refused treating each region separately, BUT worked in thematic chapters at roughly chronological order. 6 chapters, each includes 6-10 documents and 1-2 page annotation. Chapters: secret life in people's culture, pioneers and their manifestos, conceptual art, body art, retroavantgarde, freedom and nationalism.
  • critique: disproportions between single countries (only 1 essay to Hungarian art, while almost 1/2 of book to Soviet and Polish art); predominance of attitudes emerging from avant-garde and experimental practices; presentation of art that is resigned to traditional media, such as painting or sculpture (editors' apparent preference for conceptualism and performance art)


The Avant-Garde in the Shadow of Yalta. Art and Politics in Central-Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 [Polish] (Piotrowski)[edit]

  • cross-country highlight of the currents, trends, and artistic traditions in the political context
  • methodological tools: frame (after Norman Bryson)
  • book published in 2005[7]

Between worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-gardes, 1910-1930 (eds. Benson and Forgács)[edit]

  • includes hundreds of documents, almost all of them translated into English for the first time; landmark texts by the major writers, editors, artists, magazines, and movements of Central Europe.


Central European Avant-Gardes. Exchange and Transformation, 1910–1930 (ed. Benson)[edit]

  • narrative: arranged around events and situations rather than by linear, art historical categories
  • structure: features hundreds of color plates and reproductions of documents; discussions of movements from Artificialism to Zenitism; essays on figures, publications, and exhibitions; and shorter "city views" of Belgrade, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Cracow, Dessau, Ljubljana, £ódz, Poznań, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw, Weimar, and Zagreb.



  1. Rudolf Frieling, Dieter Daniels (eds.), Media art net 2: Thematische Schwerpunkte/ Key Topics, Springer, 2005, [(online), (google books)
  2. Oliver Grau (ed.), MediaArtHistories, MIT Press, 2007, (google books)
  3. Irwin (eds.), East Art Map: Contemporary Art And Eastern Europe, Afterall Books, 2006, (online), (online), (google books)
  4. Jiří Ševčík, Pavlína Morganová, Dagmar Dušková (eds.), České umění 1938-1989. Programy, kritické texty, dokumenty, Prague: Academia, 2001 (online)
  5. Josef Alan (ed.), Alternativní kultura. Příběh české společnosti 1945-1989, Prague: Lidové noviny, 2001 (online)
  6. Laura Hoptman and Tomas Pospiszyl (eds.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Easterns and Central European Art Since the 1950s, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, (online), (review)
  7. Piotr Piotrowski, Awangarda w cieniu Jałty. Sztuka w Europie środkowo-wschodniej w latach 1945–89, Poznan: Rebis, 2005 (online) (review)
  8. Timothy O. Benson, Éva Forgács (eds.), Between worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-gardes, 1910-1930, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002, (online), (google books)
  9. Timothy O. Benson (ed.), Central European Avant-Gardes. Exchange and Transformation, 1910–1930, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002, (online), (google books)