Nationalizing the international: reshuffling the geographical boundaries of twentieth-century collections
Dates: 22-27 June 2020
Organiser: Dr. Arnold A. Witte
This Summer School is fully booked
During the twentieth century, almost any artist stressed his international aspirations, and no self-respecting art movement could do without a network stretching over an entire continent or beyond it. This was confirmed by museum exhibitions in the last century that often highlighted supranational aspects of the avant-garde, in order to underline the global relevance of their own artists. This was eminently visible in, for example, La Grande Parade at the Stedelijk Museum in 1984.
With the conclusion of the century, this tendency seems to have turned into its very opposite, at least in the Netherlands. Mondrian is celebrated as Dutch, as is Ulay; and even Willem de Kooning is appropriated as such in some museums. This shift towards a national identity of an art that, in its time, aimed to detach itself from such categories, show how the historicization of the last century leads to shifting (or even shrinking) geographical frameworks. This, in turn, has an impact on collection and exhibition policies in these museums. The present course investigates how this takes place in the Netherlands – think about the Rijksmuseum which has started to acquire (again) modern and contemporary art. This will also be considered in comparison with the international context; does, to name but one example, Tate Modern privilege the international over the British perspective, and Tate Britain more the national over the global?
During this course, participants will visit a museum in their vicinity in order to consider the application of geographical frameworks, explicitly as well as implicitly, to these collections of 20th-century art – with respect to their acquisition policy, exhibitions, and (semi-)permanent installations. The online meetings will be dedicated to the discussion of a corpus of texts on the issue, a discussion with stakeholders from the Dutch museum world under which number of museum directors, and the analysis of the case studies by the students, and it will conclude with a written essay on the subject.