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Such positions move between considering formations outside of Western art’s historical canon and the way in which they trouble convenient narratives of universalism.On the one hand, the inclusion of a Native American drawing can stand for “First Peoples” as A History Before Us (always already local and chthonic, but also revealing a trace of prehistoric global migration).Jones’s approach interrogates a largely Anglo-European “global art world” of world’s fairs and biennials as driven by enabling myths, from the national through international and transnational, to the contemporary semiotics of globalism today (, forthcoming).This essay traces the stuttering history, and future potential, of global thinking in art history as the discipline evolved in the United States.This commitment requires simultaneously locating our own sighted/sitedness, working in universities on opposite coasts of the continental United States.Not surprisingly, then – with a few exceptions here and there – the discipline has been slow to propose questions on a global, transnational level, especially when compared with the fields of anthropology, sociology, or history in general.In these domains, art history was for the most part ruled by national and linguistic schools, driven by a romance with geographical genius (“Dutch landscape”), and periodized under the sign of nations that had in fact been established long after the artworks in question (“Italian Renaissance”).On the other hand – in the case of ledger drawings in particular – such a work, in concert with Harvard’s conscious mixture of American and European art, can bring traces of the global into what was formerly an “early American gallery” via the object’s testimony to colonial, imperial, and epistemological violence. Attempting to provide a cultural explanation for the prehistoric art that he saw, Myers pointed to early twentieth-century non-Western cultures, comparing the European forms to those he knew of in Mexico, North America and southern Africa. These prophetic intellectuals had no impact whatsoever on American art history, which remained, paradoxically, both provincial and fixated on Europe for at least the first half of the twentieth century, largely ignorant of universalist and transnational debates.Only two years later, Ananda Coomaraswamy, the Sri-Lankan born essay entitled “The Significance of Oriental Art,” in which he took to task the uninformed appropriation of “the Orient” by Western artists in particular and Western culture more generally, stressing, “those who look upon the East as mysterious and romantic have only themselves to thank for the creation of a novel unreality” (, 1919, p. Thus, while we might think of such inquiry as possible only within post-structuralism and its impact on contemporary thought regarding globalization, we see that nearly twenty years before the 1938 publication of Robert Goldwater’s The global we want to advocate for in the practice of art history today involves acknowledging such violence – a violence attested by objects (Native American ledgers) as well as concepts (the rigorous questioning of the motives of appropriation and othering found in the work of scholars such as Coomaraswamy, Goldwater, and Said, among others), a violence that figures the global.It is a simple fact that our discipline was fueled by taxonomies organized by language, nation, and place that emerged from the great collector-connoisseurs of the Enlightenment (Pierre-Jean Mariette and Adam Bartsch), and were consolidated by the keepers of the treasure hoards of Europe (from Alois Riegl to André Malraux).
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