Institute of Art History


Postwar Europe. Art’s potential in the late 1940s and 1950s

The DFG supports a research project „Postwar Europe – Art’s potential in the late 1940s and 1950s“. This project focusses on the art history perspective and specifies the role that art plays in the forming of the European postwar society. Instead of following the patterns of art history along the lines of the Cold War era this investigation recognizes art as an important negotiation platform. It had its active share in the dynamics of designing the new cultural spaces of the time. In order to illustrate this, while considering the two main political systems that established themselves in Europe after the war, the three aesthetic aspects of material, form and medium provide the framework. These aspects guide the selection of debates and practices of the postwar times in which controversies, (yet) unspeakable themes and even disparate topics found their expression through art.
In the research field of „Material and techniques: experiment + tradition” introduces the pottery and thread/weaving concepts of universalism. Artists like Asger Jorn and Anni Albers aimed to reintegrate Europe back into the history of civilization. The research field of „Form: Figuration and abstraction” highlights two concepts that picture reality in different ways. When looking at the statuary work of Betty Rea and Barbara Hepworth the controversially discussed differences of these modes are less important than their hidden similarities of latent structural descriptions of European specialties.
The research field of „Medium: dynamics of meaning in photo books” discusses the role of visual traditions by means of an artistic publication form on the verge of mass media. The photographic work as well as the writings of Martien Coppens lay the basis for this discussion.
This research work offers a contribution to the development of a horizontal art history. Even if Europe is not defined as the binding standard the historic relevance of the region regarding art is recognized. An important element of this work is the cooperation with colleagues who are specialized in East, Middle East and South East European art history and contribute their rich experience.

Duration: April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2020

Project Manager: Prof. Dr. Barbara Lange

Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Arnold Bartetzky (Leibniz-Institut GWZO, Leipzig), Dr. Marina Dmitrieva (Leibniz-Institut GWZO, Leipzig) und Prof. Dr. Dr. Tanja Zimmermann (Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Universität Leipzig)

Research Students: Elisabeth Weiß, Paul Ambros

Contact: postwar.europe[at]

Graduate College 1662 “Religious Knowledge in premodern Europe (800-1800)”

Follow this link to the graduate college homepage.

Promotion network "Theorie der Balance. Formen und Figuren des Gleichgewichts in Medien-, Kunst- und Literaturwissenschaft"

You can find further information about this promotion network and Prof. Dr. Ernst Seidl's contribution und this link:

Figura Mortis. Death as visual paradox in the art of the Early Modern Era (sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation)

This project analyzes death depictions in the Early Modern Era and discovers differentiated artistic concepts of visual representation of the immaterial reality considering the historic context. The visual ascertainment of the abstraction ‘death’ was not obligated to follow an established canon, well into the 17th century. Therefore the death figure became an object of experimental artistic practice due to it protean flexibility.
For further details you can contact project manager Prof. Dr. Anna Pawlak and the project assistant Marius A.T. Wittke M.A.

Digitization project: Large-format transparencies

The Institute of Art History has a sizeable number of large-format transparencies. They are part of the art-historical collection and were used as illustrative material for lecture up until the early 1980s years. In the 20s of last century the light projectors were very successfully introduced in the art-historical lecture halls. Nowadays the digital picture replaces the large-format transparency. Nevertheless the medial significance of the large-format transparencies should remain visible in current and future teaching. The depictions of architecture and sculpture have their own historical value and are useful for lectures even today. We have decided to partially digitize the large-format transparencies and make them available through the University data base easydb. That enables further use for lectures and research projects. The digitization started in 2012 and is a long term project. By the end of 2014 there were 1300 transparencies in the data base.

Completed Projects

St. Michael in Pforzheim

Main objective was to identify the complex building history and date the individual parts, the reappraisal of the history (restoration and reconstruction after 1945) as well as the new evaluation of the changing aesthetic concepts within a broader historic and artistic context. With the support of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg two practical seminars could be offered in the summer semester 2014 and the winter semester 2014/15.
Duration: April 2014 – March 2015
Project manager: Prof. Dr. Markus Thome
Student Assistants: Nadja-Sonja Lang, Oliver Wolf
Additional cooperation: Eva-Maria Hamm (photographer, Photocopying Office at the Institute of Art History)

wissen & museum: Archiv - Exponat - Evidenz

Project in Tübingen and Marbach with a duration from May 2009 until April 2012. The sub-project „Bilder in der Literatur“ (Images in Literature) was conducted at the Institute of Art History.
Information about the project can be found here
This link leads you to the project homepage.

DFG-Project (Prof. Dr. Peter Klein): Romanesque cloisters in France and Spain: Architecture, Imagery, Function, Significance

The cross-coat in the medieval cloister was the functional and topographic center piece. It played a central role in the monestary life and still represents in its Romanesque share an aesthetically impressive ensemble of covered halls, open arcades and idyllic cloister gardens. The objects of this project are six Romanesque cloisters in Southern France and Northern Spain which are distinguished by their rich imagery and their relatively good state of preservation. These cloisters are located in Moissac, Silos and San Cugat del Vallès as well as the cathedral cross-coats in Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Gerona. The Institute of Art History is engaged in bringing together analytical methods of building research, iconography, source criticism and archive research.
Further details can be obtained from the Institute of Art History, since Prof. Dr. Peter Klein is retired.