This workshop examines the idea of a universal language of visual form, as it developed through the vernacular revival at the fin de siècle. The geographical reach of the workshop is broad, with papers on the Czech-speaking lands, Finland, France, Japan, New Zealand and Poland. In all these places, the vernacular was seen to embody local traditions, but it also encouraged new interpretations of the connections between art in different localities. The sense of affinity between different vernaculars stimulated the search for an international ‘language’ of art, based on a shared ‘alphabet’ of basic forms such as line, ornament and geometry. The notion of form as language, in the context of national revivals and the formation of international networks, will be the focus of our discussion.
The workshop will take place in Kraków, which at the turn of the twentieth century became a centre of Polish art and architecture. On the second day there will be a field trip to Zakopane, where Stanisław Witkiewicz created the national “Zakopane Style”, which was in part a response to the British Arts and Crafts Movement.
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