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CFP: The Artistic Taste of Nations (Amsterdam, 13-14 Jun 2019)

Researchers are invited to submit papers scrutinizing the impact of the early modern notion of ‘school’ on the emergence of a geographical understanding of the visual arts in Europe. As an organizing principle in art collections and art books, this notion was used to indicate a range of different kinds of places, including artists’ workshops, art academies, cities, regions and nations in Europe. Its application was far from standardized, however, as evidenced by the broad debates, negotiations and contestations amongst scholars, collectors, dealers, agents and artists concerning the nature, prestige and identity of art and artists. Depending on the contexts in which such debates took place (e.g. scholarship, collecting, the market or aesthetics), the notion of school could be associated with issues of taste and civilization, human variety and national character, nature and climate, and commerce or knowledge. The concept of school was thus based on the location of certain practices and modalities of art, although it was equally suited to the active shaping of ideas about the European art world and, possibly, even about the nations of Europe. The early modern concept of school thus did not coincide with the modern notion of national school. The extent to which it influenced modern forms of national-school classifications of art and national art history (which are currently under critical scrutiny by art historians with a geographical interest in the artistic exchange, transfer or circulation of early modern art) is open to debate (Gaehtgens 1993, Kaufmann 2004, Maës 2010).

Of special interest for this conference – and the planned publication of its proceedings – are case studies devoted to art collections and art literature, as well as the often-close connections between them. Case studies of collections may comprise those of an encyclopaedic nature, as well as those devoted to prints, drawings or paintings. Several approaches are considered particularly relevant to the geographical analyses of the case studies. First, the conceptual approach to the art-geographical notion of school, which has come to imply places of artistic tuition and modalities of art, as well as publics of art, as it became tied to the notion of nation (Peltre/ Lorentz 2007, Brunner/Koselleck 1972-97, Leerssen 2006). Second, the rise of art connoisseurship supplied an instrument for evaluating art works, artists and schools in Europe through mutual comparison and critical assessment (Griener 2010, Michel 2014, Smentek 2014). Third, the aspect of trans-local, trans-regional and/or trans-national networks has shaped geographies of art through travel, debate, correspondence, trade or agency in various parts of Europe (Meyer/ Savoy 2014, Keblusek 2011).

Papers may focus on but need not be limited to:
- collections of prints, drawings, paintings or other art works, including within the context of encyclopaedic collections;
- works of art literature in the widest sense of the term;
- geographical arrangement as a form of mapping European art;
- trans-local, trans-regional or trans-national discourses of art;
- the concepts of art, school and nation, as well as the connections between them;
- identity formation through artistic concepts of school, character, style or taste;
- European networks of collectors, curators, scholars, dealers and artists;
- increasing public access to collections and/or museums;
- the rise of art connoisseurship and the critical evaluation of art;
- values of art on the market;
- the early-modern roots of modern national (and nationalistic) histories of art.

Proposals for papers should be submitted before 15 November 2018 ( They should contain an abstract of no more than 300 words, as well as a brief biography (no more than 200 words). The costs of travel and accommodation will be covered for researchers whose proposals are selected.

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