Art Theory, Historiography and Criticism

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Integrated members

Joana Cunha Leal

Joana Cunha Leal – PI

Margarida Tavares da Conceição

Margarida Tavares da Conceição

Nuno Crespo

Nuno Crespo

Joana Ramôa Melo

Joana Ramôa Melo

Luísa Soares de Oliveira

Luísa Soares de Oliveira

Mariana Pinto dos Santos

Mariana Pinto dos Santos

 

PhD students

André Silveira

Begoña Farré Torras

Emília Pinto de Almeida

Gabriela Raposo

Gabriela Raposo

Sofia Nunes

Sofia Nunes

Sofia Valado

Sofia Valado

 

Other collaborators

Ana Godinho Gil Ana Vasconcelos Margarida Medeiros Maria Helena Maia  Sílvia Almeida

 

Description

ArtTHC was created in 2010 in close articulation with a new specialization on art theory offered by the FCSH’s PhD in art history. The group was originally designated as “Art theory and disciplinary practices in art history”, meaning that our work was manly oriented towards the study of the articulation between art theory and art history writing. It particularly considered the analysis of how the study of the history of Portuguese art had been (or had not been) constrained by discursive practices institutionalized by general theoretical and methodological perspectives on art history.
One of the major concerns of ArtTHC singled out from the outset was the will to underline art history’s key role in contemporary culture, considering both its significance in humanities, and its contributions to a large number of related fields (as gender or postcolonial studies; or the particular case of visual studies, which in fact expanded Bildwissenschaft’s longstanding tradition). ArtTHC’s was also determined to reinforce interdisciplinary dialogues and cooperative work with other R&D units focusing architecture, sociology, anthropology, literature, musicology, media, etc.
Between 2010 and 2012 an increasing number of researchers were incorporated into ArtTHC eventually allowing other original resolutions to be implemented: (1) the will to expand our survey on theory through analyzing the current state of art criticism; (2) the will to consistently expand ArtTHC’s work beyond the study of late modern and contemporary art through the association of scholars and students interested in relating the analysis of theoretical and art historical perspectives with the global spectrum of the history of art (both chronologically and anthropologically speaking).
The challenges implicit on the 2013 evaluation process gave the opportunity for an adjustment of ArtTHC’s internal structure in accordance to the expanded field of work determined by the assimilation of new researchers.
ArtTHC now focus studies art theory, historiography and criticism, considering their intertwinement both in contemporary and historical contexts. We consider not only the question on how the study of art and architecture have been constrained by the debates institutionalized by art theory and art history writing, but also the visibility, interest, and value regimes supporting criticism. ArtTHC’s work encompasses the overall aesthetical, epistemological, critical, historical, political, and ideological dimensions of these fields. Thus, Portuguese writings are as much taken into consideration on our approach as the international debates absorbed and discussed by local interlocutors throughout history.
Three primary topics were defined and 3 smaller clusters were articulated around them (dialoguing with other IHA’s researchers, namely through the thematic line on The exhibition: theory and practices, and other key collaborators). These clusters are closely interconnected.
The 1st cluster, lead by Joana Cunha Leal, is oriented towards the study of historiography. It is concerned with the analysis of art historical narratives and committed to the revision of its great divides as center/periphery, high/low or primitive (or folk, or vernacular). It particularly considers the need to rethink Portuguese art as part of overlooked and underappreciated European peripheries. Modernism, and modernist narratives within art history are primary concerns. The research project on “Southern Modernisms” (EXPL/CPC-HAT/0191/2013) will define the main research activities in the near future.
A 2nd, lead by Nuno Crespo, focuses criticism and politics. This sub-group considers the need of debating some forgotten, or unfashionable questions, such as art criticism’s role in contemporary culture. The history of criticism is taken into consideration, inasmuch as the contemporary raise of artistic and institutional systems apparently immune to criticism, or the concurrent impoverishing of critical debates. A major concern is thus the rehabilitation of criticism, and by the same token the idea of artistic production operating as a field of knowledge and research in which value is not a given labeled through visibility, communication or circulation circuits.
A 3rd cluster, lead by Margarida Tavares da Conceição, studies architectural culture and the city. This group is particularly committed to the study of the effect contemporary critical thought has had on established historical perspectives on architectural theory, namely by considering how the classical (Vitruvian) matrix of architectural theory has been disrupted by a much broader understanding of text and discourse production. In question is not only the expansion of the historical sources now taken into consideration, but also the fact that the very idea of what architecture is has been significantly amplified. This concerns not only the reappraisal of architectural buildings (i.e. the work that has been neglected as “proper” architecture; a limit example here would be urban planning), but also the reappraisal of the activities supporting architectural inception: thinking, designing, planning, writing, speech, participation in the life of the civitas, etc. Under survey is also the concept of architectural culture, which by the same token has achieved a deep interdisciplinary meaning (as it depends on social and all environment related sciences) because it implies all aspects of the human habitat and a reflection on the basic commitment between architecture and society.