Call for Papers: AAH 2012 Conference Sessions

The Association of Art Historians (AHH) 38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair,  The Open University, Milton Keynes, 29 – 31 March 2012

The 2012 AAH Annual Conference will showcase the diversity and richness of art history in the UK and globally over an extensive chronological range. Like The Open University itself, AAH2012 is open to all people, places and ideas. This three-day event will profice a broad scope of geographies and methodologies, ranging from object-based studies, socio-historical analyses, theoretical discourses, visual culture of the moving image, exhibition cultures and display. Sessions and papers will reflect the composition of the wide consituency that is art history today.

The deadline for paper submissions is 7th November 2011: you can view the Academic Session listings or (Download PDF) in full on the AAH website: as ever there is a diverse range of opportunities to present research, but we here at the British Art Research blog have filleted out the sessions which have particular relevance to British Art Researchers, so read on…

‘Conflicting Art Histories: Dialogues of Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in Eighteenth-Century British Culture’

Session Convenors: Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh,; Viccy Coltman, University of Edinburgh,

William Hogarth’s traditional position as the stalwart of English nationalism in the arts was drastically re-evaluated in 2007 with the publication of Robin Simon’s Hogarth, France & British Art. Published to coincide with the Tate’s major Hogarth exhibition of 2007, Simon’s text situates Hogarth, a renowned anglophile, within a firmly European context of artistic theory and practice. How does the idea that Hogarth gleefully propagated his anti-Gallic public image, but was in fact greatly indebted to French art and theory, affect our understanding of apparently critical eighteenth-century works of art such as his Marriage-à-la- Mode (c. 1743)? While historians Linda Colley and Gerald Newman prioritised national identity as an evaluative tool for the examination of aspects of eighteenth-century British culture, is it appropriate to apply this label to broad cultural manifestations, notably the consumptive behavioural patterns of the aristocracy and the middling classes alike? This session will consider this intriguing dichotomy of eighteenth-century British art – the underwritten and unresolved conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism – and its relation to the artistic practice, material culture and intellectual history of the period.

Topics for discussion could include, but are not limited to:
– artistic response to the luxury debates
– landscape and nation
– the connoisseur and the Grand Tour
– the usefulness of labels (exotic, chinoiserie, rococo)
– the reception of Italy
– the creation of a British national school
– consumption & the meaning of goods
– the local and the global/the provincial and the metropolitan
– the issue of -isms (Englishness, Britishness, Scottishness)


‘Walls with Stories: Mural Painting in Britain from the 1890s to the 1960s’

Session Convenors: Jonathan Black, Kingston University,; Emma Chambers, Tate Britain,

Mural painting has primarily been conceived as permanent, monumental, site-specific art, intended to communicate the shared moral values of the public sphere, yet paradoxically murals have always been an art form particularly at risk of damage or destruction because of shifting politics, public taste, changes in building use, and their sheer scale. The ambiguous status of murals as objects which cross boundaries between fine art, decorative art and architecture, has also contributed to their relative physical and critical neglect Shortly after the end of the First World War, William Rothenstein, the recently-appointed Principal of the Royal College of Art, issued his call for a younger generation of artists to embrace mural painting and create ‘walls with stories’ for the moral, spiritual and educational edification of a wider public which was displaying a growing interest in popular published accounts of British History. 1939 saw a major Tate exhibition celebrating the inter-war mural revival. After the Second World War the post-war building boom and the Festival of Britain provided a fresh impetus for an ambitious programme of new mural commissions.
With this historical context in mind, this session welcomes papers that deal with any aspect of 20th-century British mural painting. Papers might investigate the institutional circumstances and politics of particular mural commissions, or the relationship of British mural painting to developments in continental Europe. Other topics of
interest include the role of art schools in promoting mural painting and the relationship of 20th-century mural painting to older traditions of history painting.


‘Sculpture and its Exhibition Histories’

Session Convenors: Lisa Le Feuvre, Henry Moore Institute; Jon Wood, Henry Moore Institute

It is a commonplace that sculpture is best encountered to be appreciated and that its forms and meanings are inadequately captured by the photographic image. This session takes up this familiar complaint, arguing that over the last hundred years or so it has been through sculpture’s exhibition, in the art gallery and museum, that it has been most articulately staged, and its complex meanings, and in turn its histories, have been most sensitively presented. Unlike published accounts of sculpture, its exhibitions have been strikingly successful in opening up the material and formal life of sculpture, constructing arguments through presentation and highlighting the subtle relations between objects and practices less articulated in more official, textbased readings and histories. Such presentations are to be found in museums particularly focused on sculpture, and in the interests of
curators with specialization in sculpture, but they are also evident in broader art exhibitions in which sculpture is highlighted in relation to other media and cultural concerns, such as ‘This is Tomorrow’ (1956), ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ (1969), ‘The Condition of Sculpture’ (1975) . ‘Primitivism in Twentieth Century Art’ (1984) and ‘Les Magiciens de la Terre’ (1989). This session invites consideration of exhibitions internationally across the last century and into the present, although of interest also will be papers that examine the exhibition of ‘British Sculpture’ through solo, group and survey presentation, including ‘British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century’ (1981), ‘The Sculpture Show’ (1983), ‘Sculpture in Twentieth-Century Britain’ (2003) and, most
recently, ‘Modern British Sculpture’ (2011) at the Royal Academy.


If you would like to propose a paper, please email the session convenor(s) directly. You will need to submit an abstract of your proposed paper in no more than 250 words, your name and insitututional affiliation (if you have one). You should receive acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks. Send  your paper proposals to the Session Convenor(s) only. Also read the Conditions of Submission if you are considering submitting a paper.
Paper proposal deadline: 7 November 2011

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