“Until this powerful movement is recognized and demystified, we will not fully understand the intellectual and cultural climate of turn-of-the-century Europe.”
Michelle Facos, Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s, Berkley and Los Angeles, 1998, 2-3.
Although linked to the re-evaluation of the legacy of Art Nouveau in the 1960s and 1970s, the term National Romanticism came into wider art historical use in the 1980s and 1990s in relation to growing interest in the cultures of the so-called ‘peripheral’ nations of Europe; first in the Nordic region and then the post-Eastern Bloc countries. In this context, National Romanticism facilitated the integration of these new regions into the sphere of Western art history, but its continued currency can now be seen to limit the scope of understanding of these cultures in a larger pan-European context.
This session intends to provide an international platform for a critical re-assessment of National Romanticism that challenges some of the art historical assumptions and expectations called up by this term. At the turn of the last century, artists and designers crossed boundaries between disciplines and between social, political and aesthetic concerns, making it difficult to maintain ideological and formal categories and posing a real challenge to the historian of this period. And yet, the works and objects understood as National Romantic and their relationship to the wider culture of the period offer an intriguing challenge to the lingering influence of a Modernist emphasis on a linear, progressive reading of history.
Royal College of Art
London SW7 2EU
School of Arts
London SW15 5PH
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