The Artwork Exposed. Politics and the Arts (1850-1914)

17 do
17 april 2014
19e eeuw
20e eeuw

The Artwork Exposed. Politics and the Arts (1850-1914)


Symposium in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Historical Society (Koninklijk Nederlands Historisch Genootschap), Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, 17-18 April 2014.

With a Keynote Lecture on “Patriotism, Empathy, and the Politicization of Art” by Michelle Facos (Indiana University Bloomington).

In art history, the last decades have seen an overwhelming number of publications that provide political interpretations of a variety of artworks. It almost seems as if any visual object can be interpreted in ways inscribing it with political significance. Rather than adding yet more interpretations of individual works to the canon of art history, this symposium aims to take the topic of art and politics into more theoretical realms by asking questions that touch upon the fundamental relationship between artworks, history and politics. Artworks are in the first place visual objects. How can artworks and political history be related to each other, apart from using the first to illuminate the second – and vice versa? How are visual objects able to communicate a political message? How can historians deal with the divide between intention and perception when analyzing artworks? And whose intentions are we talking about: those of the artist, those of the commissioner, or those of the viewer?

The conference sets out to develop new ways of thinking about artworks as objects in networks of intention, interpretation and social relations that include artists, commissioners, critics and the audience. It is the explicit intention of the organizers to step beyond the well-known generalizations of art history, like artistic styles or schools, avant-garde and arrière-garde, modern and traditional. It offers a platform that brings together young and established scholars, both historians and art historians, who are studying the period 1850-1914. In addition, the conference will include a visit to the Rijksmuseum for an in situ discussion of the relationship between arts and politics in the Dutch context.

The conference is organized by:
Camelia Errouane (University of Groningen)
Laura Prins (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)

To register for this event, please mail to before April 9 and transfer the registration fee to IBAN: NL25 INGB 0006 9343 91, BIC: INGBNL2A in the name of KNHG The Hague, mentioning ‘The Artwork Exposed’.

Registration fee (includes refreshments and lunch): € 40
Reduced prices for students (€ 20), KNHG members (€ 30) and KNHG student members (€ 15).
Entrance to the conference venues is free of charge. However, please note that in order to visit the Rijksmuseum Front Hall and Gallery of Honour on the second day of the conference you will need to have a valid entrance ticket to the museum.

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