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