Marjolijn Bol Receives ERC Starting Grant

Dr Marjolijn Bol, one of the newest members of the Utrecht Young Academy, is one of the nine researchers at Utrecht University who will receive an ERC (European Research Council) Starting Grant this year. With this grant, she will research which factors influence the durability of art through the ages. 

Dr Marjolijn Bol

Dynamics of the Durable

How long can an art work survive? This question is typically considered a problem of cultural heritage conservation—as the physical problem of how art can best be kept and stored in its original condition for as long as possible. This research program investigates the problem of durability in art in an entirely new manner. It turns to the patrons and artists of the past and their ambitions for art’s survival:

How did artisans explore ways to make objects durable?
What determined the desire of patrons to order and own durable art objects?
What social practices and institutions were designed for an object’s survival?

Dynamics of the Durable: A History of Making Things Last in the Visual and Decorative Arts (DURARE) is the first synthetic study of the impact of these ambitions for durability on the long-term development of European art traditions. It provides a break-through in our understanding of why the West regards cultural heritage as something that ought to be frozen in time. It shows how artisanal knowledge about the stability and ageing of materials impacted fundamental knowledge traditions outside the history of art. And it sheds new light on why, in response to the supposed durability of the arts of the past, contemporary art often became ephemeral instead.