Visitors to the Picasso exhibition in 1955 infront of the famous "Guernica", Stadtarchiv Munich
Postwar — Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965
Symposium, 22–24 May, 2014
The terms postwar, post-colonialism and post-communism describe the historical conditions under which the world has developed since 1945. As individual subjects of art historical inquiry and analysis they represent a three-part, long-term research and exhibition project that is being developed by Haus der Kunst and international institutional partners across eight years of research. The purpose of the research project is to bring together leading and emerging scholars, historians, artists, curators, theorists, and students to examine the artistic forces and cultural legacies that have shaped the production of art since 1945.
Conceived as an in-depth study of the postwar period, this first iteration of the project "Postwar — Art between the Pacific and Atlantic, 1945-1965," is planned to open at Haus der Kunst in early 2016 and subsequently at Tate Modern. The exhibition shifts the focus away from the Western/European vantage point and redirects attention to the polyphonic and multifocal examination of art since 1945. "Postwar" therefore seeks to understand the complex legacies of artistic practice and art historical discourses that emerged globally in the aftermath of World War II’s devastation. Through the vital relationship between art works and artists, produced and understood from the perspectives of international, regional, and local contexts, the research and exhibition will trace artistic developments in the first twenty years after the war by following the sweeping lines of the two oceans across Europe, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Africa, the Mediterranean, North America, and South America. Probing differing concepts of artistic modernity such as abstraction, realism, figuration, and representation, the project will explore how receptions and formulations of modernism informed the manifestation of specific variants of modern art. By following these lines, "Postwar" straddles continents, political structures, economic patterns, and institutional frameworks. Alert to the political and cultural implications of both the Atlantic and Pacific, the diachronic axis of the project’s research scope stretches from Germany to Japan as representatives of the Atlantic and Pacific hemispheres.
As part of the research and exhibition project, a broad spectrum of events, conferences, and publications have been planned of which the "Postwar — Art between the Pacific and Atlantic, 1945-1965" symposium is the first. Convened at the Haus der Kunst in collaboration with the Tate Modern on 22-24 May, 2014, the symposium is an attempt to reconsider and re-examine the two decades following World War II. If we are to remap the cartographies of postwar modernism, what sort of methodologies might we deploy? How, we might ask, were radical aesthetics iterated and to what extent did the political exert pressure on the aesthetic, the cultural on the artistic? In turn, how did artists, critics, and intellectuals negotiate, resist, or even subvert political ideologies? How were artistic practices and aesthetic frameworks re-construed in dispersed political and cultural contexts, especially in response to hegemonic paradigms? Conversely, how did artistic and intellectual movements from the former colonial peripheries impact the terrains of modernism? How then did the circulation of art, objects, discourses, and ideas shape the global contours of postwar modernism? What, if any, were the connections between form and context in the postwar world?
The project "Postwar — Art between the Pacific and Atlantic, 1945-1965" is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Goethe-Institut.