Arthistorical methodologies

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


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


The tragedy of Central Europe [article] (Kundera)


Top 10 artists by country + Cross-genre/country/timeperiod essays

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

  • 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 [1]
  • 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[4]
  • 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 by time-period

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

  • 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 [2]
  • 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[5], accompanied by online database [3]
  • 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

Case-studies by cultural field in a country

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

  • 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[6], 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)

Between worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-gardes, 1910-1930 (Benson and Forgács)


Body and the East: From the 1960s to the Present (Badovinac and Briški)


Modern Art in Eastern Europe: From the Baltic to the Balkans, Ca. 1890-1939 (Mansbach)


Avant-gardes Connections from Prague to Bucharest 1907-1930 [Hungarian] (Passuth)



  1. 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
  2. Piotr Piotrowski, Awangarda w cieniu Jałty. Sztuka w Europie środkowo-wschodniej w latach 1945–89, Poznan: Rebis, 2005 (online)
  3. Milan Kundera, "The tragedy of Central Europe", New York Review of Books, 26 April 1984, pp.33-8 (The article was initially published in French under the title "Un Occident kidnappe ou la tragedie de l'Europe centrale", Le Debat, november 1983, no 27) overview
  4. Irwin (eds.), East Art Map: Contemporary Art And Eastern Europe, Afterall Books, 2006, (online), (online), (google books)
  5. Jiří Ševčík, Pavlína Morganová, Dagmar Dušková (eds.), České umění 1938-1989. Programy, kritické texty, dokumenty, Prague: Academia, 2001 (online)
  6. Josef Alan (ed.), Alternativní kultura. Příběh české společnosti 1945-1989, Prague: Lidové noviny, 2001 (online)
  7. Timothy O. Benson, Éva Forgács, Between worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-gardes, 1910-1930, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002, (google books), (review)
  8. Zdenka Badovinac, Mika Briški, Body and the East: From the 1960s to the Present, Ljubljana: Moderna galerija, (google books)
  9. Steven A. Mansbach, Modern Art in Eastern Europe: From the Baltic to the Balkans, Ca. 1890-1939, Cambridge University Press, 1999 (google books) review
  10. Krisztina Passuth, Avantgard kapcsolatok Prágától Bukarestig 1907-1930, Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 1998 review