Call for proposals: Special Issue 45 of ILCEA: “Painting, national identity and international style in Europe around 1900”

Call for submissions
Co-editors: Eugenia Afinoguénova (Marquette University) and Pierre Géal (Université
Grenoble Alpes/ILCEA4)

This Special Issue invites scholars to examine the contribution of painting – be it avant-garde or not,
from Southern or Northern Europe – to this quest for national identities around 1900 from the
following perspectives:
• The notion of national / international style: besides the artists, who were the actors in the
artistic field that participated in the process of building this notion and in this reading of
artistic production? (critics, writers, exhibition curators, museum curators, art historians …)
• Since this confrontation could not be reduced to an opposition between a patriotic corset
and an emancipatory opening to the outside, how did artists conceive their belonging to a
national school and what use did they make of references to foreign traditions, either at the
same time or later on?
• What are the ways in which painting contributed to the elaboration of national imaginary?
(landscape, history, customs, ethnotypes …)
• How are contrasts and continuities between nationalism and regionalism articulated in
pictorial production and in its reception?
• Is it possible to separate the contribution of painting to the elaboration of a national
imaginary from the question of national style?
• How was the relationship between painting and national / international identity staged?
(places of exhibition, places of creation, workshops-museums …)

In the second half of the nineteenth century, as artists and works of art moved with increasing ease
around the western world and as aesthetic trends claimed to overcome national borders, the
national prism often played a key role in the way in which artistic production was evaluated and
classified. World’s Fairs and International Art Exhibitions—those spaces of peaceful confrontation—
offered the best example of an approach explicitly structured around the commonly accepted yet still
imprecise notion of a national school. If this framework seemed logical in the case of exhibition
venues intended to stage national differences, it was much more surprising to see it also used in
deliberately internationalist contexts. Though the avant-garde movements defined themselves
through complex interaction between the national and the international, at the beginning of the 20th
century their self-professed cosmopolitanism did not make them immune to the nationalist
exacerbation that affected the majority of western countries [Joyeux-Prunel]. Or, to give another
example, the artificial nature of the opposition between the Fauvists and “Die Brücke” betrays the
influence of nationalist criteria in the history of art [Lebensztejn].
The life and work of Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) perfectly illustrate the blending of these two
approaches. Sorolla´s modern, sometimes bold yet never avant-garde, style allowed him to triumph
in a market where works of art were produced and circulated internationally, while also protecting
his national roots. On the one hand, he consciously kept close to the transnational examples of
Bastien-Lepage, Zorn, Sargent, or Krøyer; on the other hand, he associated himself with the idea of
Hispanic heritage and became increasingly attuned to the ideas of national and regional identity,
which constituted the raison d’être of Vision of Spain—the enormous commission from the Hispanic
Society to which he dedicated more than seven years at the end of his life. The reflection on national
identity, stimulated by the surge of “peripheral nationalisms” and by the moral crisis triggered by the
loss of Spain’s last colonies – the “disaster” of 1898 – intensified Spanish artists’ connection to
tradition and history, as well as the landscape [Vega]. This was also the time of new debates—for
example, the opposition between the “black Spain” of Zuloaga and the “white Spain” of Sorolla—in
which artists, as well as writers, were called on to take sides and self-identify. Moreover, this identity
quests did not take place in isolation but were, rather, products of transnational and transatlantic
markets of regional and national imagery, set in motion by Euro-American elites [Hoganson, Kagan].
While Spain had its own peculiarities, in the early 20th century most European nations experienced a
surge of nationalism, fueled by international tensions and the expansion of internationalist labor
movements. The moral crisis occurring in Spain did not differ significantly from the fear of decadence
felt by a good number of European intellectuals. Looking for national essences, many of them
believed that the cultural expression of a nation was determined, as Taine wrote, by the combination
of “race, milieu, and moment.” Continuing the romantic idea of Volksgeist, the organicist conception
of the nation lead to highlighting regional identities while also allowing the national sentiment to be
articulated through the exaltation of “little motherlands” [Storm]. Such a phenomenon, particularly
noticeable in newly unified nations, could be observed even in a country like France, where
nationalism is traditionally perceived as remarkably centralizing [Chanet].

Stages and timeline:
• 2,000-3,000-character long proposals in French, English or Spanish, accompanied by a short
CV and a list of the author’s selected publications, should be sent by December 18, 2019 to and
• Authors will receive notification of acceptance of rejection by December 25, 2019.
• Complete texts must be received by March 15, 2020.
• Authors will receive the results of the review by the two evaluators in the spring of 2020.
• Special Issue 45 of ILCEA will be published in November 2021.
Jean-François Chanet, L’École républicaine et les petites patries, Paris, Aubier, 1996.
Kristin Hoganson, “Cosmopolitan Domesticity: Importing the American Dream, 1865–1920”, The
American Historical Review, Volume 107, Issue 1, February 2002, p.55-83.
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Les avant-gardes artistiques. Une histoire transnationale. 1918-1945, Paris,
Gallimard, coll. Folio Histoire, 2015.
Richard L. Kagan, The Spanish Craze: America’s Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779–1939,
University of Nebraska Press, 2019.
Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, Annexes – de l’oeuvre d’art, Bruxelles, La Part de l’oeil, 1999.
Eric Storm, The culture of regionalism: Art, architecture and international exhibitions in France,
Germany and Spain, 1890-1939, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2010.
Jesusa Vega, Pasado y tradición. La construcción visual del imaginario español en el siglo XIX, Madrid,
Ediciones Polifemo, 2016.

Contact Info:

Eugenia Afinoguénova (Marquette University) and Pierre Géal (Université Grenoble Alpes/ILCEA4)


Call for proposals: Special Issue 45 of ILCEA: “Painting, national identity and international style in Europe around 1900”

Graduate Student Conference
Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies
Harvard University
April 9–10, 2020

(Im)possibility marks a limit of available information, a threshold of representation, a cessation of action. Thinking at the limits of the possible gives rise to a specific set of issues: how might we articulate that which cannot be said? How might we orient ourselves toward that for which no available theory or representation is adequate?

While it is primarily thought of as an exception, impossibility is in fact ubiquitous and our relationship to it intimate. To demonstrate the omnipresence of the impossible, some might look toward contemporary political crises, saying that current conditions are untenable. Others might point to ecological destruction, noting that human life itself may soon become an impossibility. So integrated is this limit into the fabric of daily life that it has become commonplace in contemporary discourse to claim that the impossible can no longer be called—at least in any straightforward sense—unlivable.

Indeed, Black studies theorist Frank B. Wilderson III would respond that the category of “humanity” has always rendered some lives impossible—that the very concept of the human constructs Blackness as a site of nonbeing subject to, and of, perpetual extraction, gratuitous violence, and social death.

Alexander Kluge writes that cinema is the single medium capable of capturing “the impossible moment”—a moment that couldn’t be imagined beforehand, and which can never be repeated again. Cinema and digital media enable us to glimpse other realms of (im)possibility—realms in which the impossible can manifest as fiction, simulation, speculation, or absurdity. Outside the bounds of continuous space and time, the (im)possible might circulate here: not the world as it is, but the world as we might make it.

Or, perhaps cinema and digital media—despite all their promises to collapse traditional hierarchies and think otherwise—give rise to new structural, technological, and epistemological impossibilities. Digital media rely on that which is impossible to comprehend: data made illegible in code, information flows too large or too fast to grasp. No single spectator can configure themselves as the subject of such information.

We don’t have to choose: (im)possibility is given in the shared periphery of a futural, idealized dimension and a present, negative dimension. It lays waste to current frameworks, concepts, and worlds while offering insight from beyond the break. (Im)possibility beckons as a radical promise because it endures as an impassive present, and one of the challenges of the contemporary moment might be to hold those two modalities together. How might we consider the impossible itself as anything other than a negative concept—an index of failure? What might we articulate about (im)possibility without, for all that, rendering it (as another) possible?

This conference aims to foster an environment of exchange and discussion amongst a diverse set of participants across fields that include, but are not limited to, film and media studies; the histories of science, technology, and computing; the history of art and architecture; and visual culture. We invite proposals for scholarly papers, audio-visual presentations, aural installations, exploratory writing, and performances that engage with, as well as extend beyond, the areas listed below. Please submit abstracts (no longer than 300 words), together with a short biographical note, to by January 15, 2020. Presenters will be notified in late February 2020.

Apophatic theology
Being (of Nothingness)
Black cinema
Climate change
Deep time
Epistemological limits
Hidden infrastructures
Non-anthropocentric intensities
Queer (non)sociality
Representation and its limits
States of exception
Terra Nullius
The end of Galileo’s visibility postulate
Thirdness/the neutral

Contact Info:

Nace Zavrl

Contact Email:


© KNHG 2022 Website: Code Clear