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Milena Bartlová

From which Vantage Points Does an Art Historian Look? The History of Central European Art and the Postcolonial Impulse

This contribution to the discussion deals with the definition of Central Europe in art history and the discourse relating to the centre and the periphery in the Central European art-historical tradition. In the author’s view, Matthew Rampley, in the text that initiated the discussion, failed to analyse and deconstruct sufficiently thoroughly the colonial and self-colonising discourse relating to Central Europe. Referring to the work of Jan Białostocki, Ján Bakoš, and Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, the article places Rampley’s study of Piotr Piotrowski in the context of the art-historical debates of the 1980s, and examines key terms such as ‘delayed development’. It also takes issue with the rejection of Piotrowski on the grounds of lingering Hegelianism, and in this connection suggests that it would be appropriate to go beyond an intuitive definition of the theme of centre and periphery, and, for example, to work with Immanuel Wallerstein’s politico-economic analysis or with current concepts of social geography. It also considers as equally necessary for the ongoing debate the more profound analysis of the effects of the postcolonial stimulus presented by David Summers two decades ago. It will be of fundamental importance to invert the perspective of the agent of influence (in the sense that Michael Baxandall proposed), and to have a new discussion about the criteria of the quality of art.

Milena Bartlová:

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