On 26 June 2019 Prof Eva-Maria Troelenberg will give her inaugural lecture as professor of Modern and Contemporary Art. Her lecture is entitled Bridging the Gap, or: how to become a Modernist.
Interest in ‘non-European’
Artistic exchange between different cultures and parts of the world has a long history. In the modern period, the interest in the so-called ‘non-European’ became a constituting element of Western avant-garde movements. Artists described their encounters with African, Pre-Columbian or Islamic objects and landscapes as important catalysts for their search for new means of visual expression.
A multiplicity of modernism
Taking its cue from examples relating to the Islamicate Mediterranean, this lecture will argue firstly that these processes have not always been understood, studied and criticized enough within a teleological narrative of art history. Secondly, it will suggest an opening of the canon, including voices which speak not for a westbound direction, but for a multiplicity of modernism.
Becoming a modernist art historian
If understood in this way, modernism leads up to the contemporary not by only digesting the arts of the ‘other’ from various periods, but by cross-cultural encounter and dialogue. In this perspective, it also looks into the conditions of becoming a modernist art historian in a moment of expanding canons and critical self-reflection of the discipline.
Eva-Maria Troelenberg is chair for modern and contemporary art history in the department History and Art History at Utrecht University. As head of a Max Planck Research Group at Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, she developed a research profile focusing on cross-cultural exchanges in art, collecting and archaeology, with a particular focus on the modern Mediterranean after 1800.