Donnerstag, 25. November 2010

Graduate Symposium Holland-America

A little plug for a graduate symposium organized by Wouter Davidts:

When Donald Judd had his first solo show at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands in 1970, a local newspaper headlined that the American artist was “glad that the whole European tradition was over and done away with.” Judd belonged to a generation that, in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, wanted to change the perception of modern American art as a meagre imitation of the European avant-garde and resolutely claimed a leading position for American art.

The two-day symposium Holland-America aims to investigate the artistic relationship and dialogue between Europe and the United States in 1950s and 1960s. While this liaison is all too often portrayed as one of rivalry and competition, epitomized by the waning of Paris and the rising of New York, it has equally well been one of association and exchange, taking place in then expanding international networks of artists, critics, and curators. The symposium Holland-America will focus on the role and position of the Netherlands played in this transatlantic exchange.

Whereas the Stedelijk Museum already showed important exhibitions of American abstract art in the 1950s, it was only with the advent of minimalist and conceptual art in the 1960s that other major Dutch museums welcomed the new art from the United States with large survey shows (New Shapes of Color, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1966; Compass 3: Painting after 1945 from New York, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1967; Minimal Art, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1968) and major one man exhibitions for key protagonists such as Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre and Dan Flavin. At the same time, Dutch artists increasingly found their way to the US.

The symposium Holland-America aims to unravel the complex history of the distribution and the reception of American art and artists in the Netherlands in the first two decades after World War II. Our aim is to investigate the interchange between two countries with a shared social and economical history yet with distinct art historical traditions. Who were the key players in the transatlantic traffic of people, ideas and artworks? Which exhibitions or art events could be identified as major moments of intercontinental exchange?

We seek papers that unpick dominant narratives of postwar European and American art history and uncover new perspectives and insights into the complex relationship between art, artists, and art institutions within the Netherlands and the United States; papers with a historical, theoretical, or critical focus as well as case studies qualify.

The symposium Holland-America takes place on 17 & 18 February 2011 within the context of the exhibition Abstract USA 1958-1968. In the Galleries at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe (Enschede, NL; It is organized by the Department of Art History, VU University Amsterdam ( and the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD; Please submit an application by January 5, 2011 to Wouter Davidts (w.davidts[at] and Jesse van Winden (jessevanwinden[at]

Graduate students working at any level—from MA to PhD candidates—are eligible. Candidates should include the following in their applications: curriculum vitae (maximum two pages), an abstract (maximum 350 words), and the name of a faculty adviser who will review the final paper and provide support in preparing the presentation. The abstract should be printed in eleven-point font, double-spaced, with margins no smaller than one inch. Papers must be written and presented in English.

Image: One of Frank Stella's Irregular Polygons, from Abstract USA 1958-1968. In the Galleries at Rijksmuseum Twenthe.

Dienstag, 9. November 2010

December 3: Seminar with Abigail Solomon-Godeau

On Friday, December 3, feminist photo historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau will conduct a seminar around the theme “Fetishism, Femininity and Contemporary Art.”

Abigail Solomon-Godeau has made important contributions to the theoretical discourse around both feminist thought and photography history. She teaches at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is the author of Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic History, Institutions and Practices (1992) and Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation (1997). Her essays, which have been frequently translated and anthologized, deal with feminism and art, contemporary art, photography, and nineteenth-century visual culture.

Feminist theorists and scholars have persuasively demonstrated how Freud’s concept of fetishism underpins and structures many forms of mass culture, advertising, and the visual arts, while Marxist scholars have long elaborated on Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism as presented in the first part of Capital. In many respects, the work of art can be seen to be inflected or shaped by both forms of fetishism. However, art work by modern and contemporary women artists, both before and after the re-emergence of feminism in the late 60s, could be said to collectively produce their own analyses, critiques, and subversions of the fetish character of art, of the commodity, and (hardly least) the fetishistic representation of femininity. This talk examines a number of these works by women artists that work to dismantle or denaturalize the very conventions that perpetuate fetishistic desire in both of its forms.

To prepare for the seminar, students are required to read Sigmund Freud’s essay “Fetishism” (1927) and Laura Mulvey, “Thoughts on Theories of Fetishism in the Context of Contemporary Culture”, October, vol. 65 (Summer 1993), pp. 3-20. These texts will be sent to all participants in advance of the seminar.

The seminar will take place at the University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort, room ek.01A from 2-4 p.m. There is only room for a limited number of participants; MA students can make a reservation via their teacher/local PMK contact.

Montag, 1. November 2010

November 27: Seminar with Brian Holmes and Charles Esche

On Saturday, November 27, Platform Moderne Kunst presents a discussion with American theorist Brian Holmes and Van Abbemuseum director Charles Esche. The seminar is intended for MA students specializing in modern and contemporary art.

Brian Holmes is an art critic and cultural theorist who engages in collaborative research around the world. Last year a collection of essays entitled Escape the Overcode, Activist Art in the Control Society was published by the Van Abbemuseum and the curatorial collective WHW. Over the last decade he has worked with activist artists such as Ne Pas Plier, Bureau d’Études, Makrolab, Hackitecura and the 16 Beaver Group. He has contributed to many journals, magazines and web venues, including Multitudes, Springerin, Open and Nettime. Previous publication include Hieroglyps of the Future: Art & Politics in a Networked Era (Zagrabe, WHW & Arkzin, 2002) and Unleashing the Collective Phantoms: Essays in Reverse Imagineering (New York, Autonomedia, 2007).

Charles Esche is a curator and writer. Between 2000 and 2004 he was the Director of Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden and since 2004 he is Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Esche has co-curated several international exhibitions and biennials. He is co-founder and co-editor of Afterall journal and Afterall Books. Esche is a theory advisor at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and visiting professor at NABA, Milano.

The seminar takes place in the light of a symposium The Artistic Device organized by the Van Abbemuseum with Brian Holmes, which includes a performance-lecture Möglichkeitsraum by the artist Angela Melitopolous on Saturday afternoon, in which Brian Holmes participates. The discussion with Brian Holmes and Charles Esche will focus on Holmes’ reading of Melitopolous’s documentary and activist modes of artistic practice. To this end participating students must read the text “The Artistic Device” ( and “Extradisciplinary Investigations: Towards a New Critique of Institutions” (

The seminar will take place in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, from 11:30am to 1:30pm. There only is room for a limited number of participants. The invitation will be distributed to MA students of the various universities by email; if you would like to attend, you can contact the teacher who sent you the mail.