Revivalism in 20th Century Design: Germany, Scandinavia and Central Europe

Venue and Dates:
College Art Association (CAA) annual conference, New York , February 15-18, 2017

Chair:
Paul Stirton, Bard Graduate Center

Call for Papers:

For much of the twentieth century, Revivalism and Historicism were felt to be reactionary tendencies in design. In 1961 Nikolaus Pevsner encapsulated the Modernist view when he stated, “all reviving of styles of the past is a sign of weakness.” Despite this condemnation, revivalist styles thrived in Germany, Central Europe, and Scandinavia throughout the century, whether for nationalistic, aesthetic, religious, or political reasons. In a period of shifting political boundaries, uneven economic growth, thwarted national aspirations, and an uneasy dialectic between regional, national, and internationalist impulses in design, it is not surprising that historic and vernacular sources should be revived and imbued with a complex range of meanings. This session aims to explore the deeper significance of revivalist movements in design, both short-lived and localized, as well as the broader stylistic tendencies that survived over longer periods.

“Style,” as an analytical tool and indicator of meaning, has been downplayed by design and art historians during the past generation. This session intends to examine those period and vernacular revivals within the wider context of social and political change. The main focus of the session will be design and decoration, whether public or domestic, but contributions in architecture and the fine arts will be welcome where relevant to the wider understanding of revivalism in a particular period or region.

Topics and approaches relevant to the theme may include:
National Romantic styles and the material culture of “imagined communities”
Revivalist tendencies within Modernism (e.g. “Biedermeier revival”)
The Neo-Baroque, the “Folk Baroque,” and Art Deco in Central Europe
Folk and vernacular revivals in nationalist and National Socialist contexts
Commemoration and revivalism
Post Modernism and revival styles across the iron curtain
Institutionalizing revivals: exhibitions, festivals, museums, and museology
Historiography, revivalism, and changing attitudes to the past

Please send a one-page abstract, CV, and a brief letter explaining your interest in the session to Paul Stirton (Stirton@bgc.bard.edu) by April 4th, 2016.

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