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1/2016

Articles

Ladislav Kesner

Against the Affectless Iconology of Modern Art

Proti bezemoční ikonologii moderního umění

pp. 2-18

The affectivity of works of art and the affective response to them remain a difficult subject for art history and theory.  Among the key issues for art history and theory are questions such as: What constitutes the affectivity of the image? What role has the beholder´s affective response in the experience of a painting or sculpture, and how is the affective dimension activated in the hermeneutical act of viewing and understanding? And, finally, how is the emotional effect of the art work to be related to the causal account of its making, or, what is the place of affective response in the interpretation of a work of art? The essay focuses on these issues by considering a few micro case studies through the prism of the emerging theory of affective response to images. The essay is written as an extended argument against some recent ‘turn against affect’ views in art history and theory and against ‘affectless iconology’ – an interpretive practice which overlooks the affectivity of the work of art and/or denies it any place in the interpretation. The case studies, all concerned with figural work made in the period 1910–1912, analyse several distinct scenarios of relation between the affective response and  the meaning (or intention) of the work in question. They demonstrate how literary and other cultural associations the works possess are grounded in and/or are accessible through the beholder’s affective response in multiple ways.

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Eva Forgacs

Art History's One Blind Spot in East-Central Europe: Terminology

Slepá skvrna dějin umění ve středovýchodní Evropě. Terminologie

pp. 19-28

Terminology reflects a widely shared consensus on a philosophical understanding of history and culture. There is a contradiction between, on the one hand, claims of the existence of a specifically East-Central European art, and on the other, the almost exclusive use of the terms of Western or Russian modernism and the avant-gardes – and often contemporary art as well – to describe this art. Terminology is, of course, political, as it is a part of building a canon and the ideological framework of constructing a narrative. During the Cold War years, the use of Western art terminology served as an act of political resistance; it was proof of belonging to European culture, which was anathema to state authorities who would not suffer the mere mention of such terms as ‘surrealism’, let alone ‘abstraction’. The terms in use reflect a dualism in the cultures of East-Central Europe: local art and culture are seen as an integral part of the European tradition on the one hand, and as fundamentally different from the European tradition as a product of each culture’s ‘national genius’ on the other. Since the collapse of the totalitarian regimes, efforts have been directed towards the reconstruction of a historical narrative that had been tendentiously deformed and de-nationalized during the communist era and, at the same time, at the adjustment of that narrative to the current international/global discourse on contemporary art. The price of not having a valid narrative is that many East-Central European artists’ bodies of work fall through the cracks. Because we lack the relevant terms to describe and interpret their works, they remain in obscurity.

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Dragoş Gh. Năstăsoiu

Patterns of Devotion and Traces of Art. The Pilgrimage of Queen Elizabeth Piast to Marburg, Cologne, and Aachen in 1357

Vzorce zbožnosti a stopy umění. Pouť královny Alžběty Piastovny do Marburku, Kolína nad Rýnem a Cách v roce 1357

pp. 29-43

This article focuses on the pilgrimage to Marburg, Cologne, and Aachen that the Hungarian Dowager Queen Elizabeth Piast undertook in 1357 along with Charles IV of Luxemburg and his wife, Anna of Schweidnitz. During this joint Angevin-Luxemburg pilgrimage, Elizabeth Piast expressed her piety in Marburg at the sepulcher of her holy predecessor St Elizabeth of Hungary/Thuringia, venerated the relics of the Three Magi in Cologne, and worshipped the Passion and Marian memorials in Aachen, where Charlemagne’s tomb was located as well. The dynastic and political consequences of this pilgrimage were that Charles IV established (in 1362) an altar of St Wenceslas, and the Hungarian queen’s son, King Louis the Great, founded (prior to 1366) a chapel dedicated to his holy predecessors and his country’s patron saints: namely Sts Stephen, Emeric, and Ladislas. By examining a number of written records including chroniclers’ accounts, charters, and treasury inventories, and confronting them with the surviving visual evidence, the author reconstructs the early history of the Hungarian chapel in Aachen and establishes its manifold implications. First, the founding of a ‘national’ chapel in Aachen was an attempt at conferring to the cult of these regional (Hungarian) saints a new, global dimension. Second, the newly-acquired sacred prestige of the sancti reges Hungariae was further transferred upon King Louis the Great as the chapel’s founder and promoter of his holy predecessors’ cult. The heraldic symbols on the donated objects visually linked the donations to their donor, attesting not only to the magnificence of the Hungarian royal house in the second half of the fourteenth century, but also to the pious practices and the self-representation tools of a dynasty wherein the veneration of its holy predecessors played an important part. Finally, besides increasing the Angevins’ sacral and political prestige, the Hungarian chapel also functioned as a spiritual embassy for the Hungarian pilgrims who arrived in great numbers for the Aachen Heiligtumsfahrt.

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Reports

Artur Kolbiarz

The Early Baroque Sculpture in Lower Silesia and Johann Georg Bendl

Raně barokní sochařství v Dolním Slezsku a Jan Jiří Bendl

pp. 44-56

There are numerous examples of artistic ties between Silesia and Bohemia in the early modern era. Early Baroque sculpture was significantly influenced by a leading artist in Prague – Johann Georg Bendl. This influence is especially apparent in sculptural work that was commissioned at that time for monasteries. During the temporary crisis faced by urban centres in the second half of the 17th century it was artists working for monasteries who shaped the style of Lower Silesian sculpture of that time. Matthäus Knote from Legnica, who was trained around 1660 in Prague, probably by Bendl himself, was the first sculptor in Silesia to fully make use of Early Baroque stylistic techniques. He was the author of the two oldest Marian columns in the region (both in Lubiąż, 1670) and of the pulpit in the Church of Peace in Jawor (1670–1671). After Knote’s death his workshop was taken over and moved to Lubiąż by a distinguished Austrian artist, Matthias Steinl. Under his direction, sculpture in Lubiąż evolved in the direction of High Baroque Flemish art. However, some works – thanks to assistants who came to Lubiąż from Knote’s workshop – was still strongly rooted in the tradition of Prague sculpture. The most important of these works was the main altar in Lubiąż Abbey (1681), featuring sculptures that represent a synthesis of Knote’s and Steinl’s styles. An anonymous assistant from Lubiąż continued to use the formal techniques he had learned earlier when he began working independently (for example, in the pulpit created by this anonymous assistant for the church in Starczow in the 1680s). Thanks to Lubiąż’s connections the stylistic techniques of Prague sculpture also reached Franz Georg Zeller, who worked for many years for the Norbertines in Wrocław (where he created a pulpit in the Church of St Vincent in 1678). Another group of figures inspired by Bendl’s achievements decorates the post-Jesuit church in Świdnica. Sculpted by several artists before the arrival of Johann Riedl (1692), this group of figures refers in various ways to works found in churches in Prague. Bendl’s influence on Lower Silesian sculpture had disappeared completely by the end of the 17th century, giving way to new inspirations from High Baroque art.

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Archives

Alena Kavčáková

Z pařížských dopisů Jana Zrzavého malíři F. V. Mokrému

Selected Letters from Jan Zrzavý to Artist F. V. Mokrý 

pp. 57-72

A recently published collection of selected letters of Jan Zrzavý provides evidence of the role played by Zrzavý and F. V. Mokrý in putting together the programme of Alšová síň (Aleš exhibition hall), the new gallery that Výtvarný odbor Umělecké besedy (VOUB – the Visual Arts Section of the Arts Club) opened in April 1926. Artist Jan Zrzavý lived and worked in Paris from 1923 to 1927 and while there, and especially over the course of 1926, approached other artists working in Paris (e.g. Tsuguharu-Léonard Foujita, Henry de Waroquier, Raoul Dufy, Ossip Zadkine, Ivan Puni, Milan Konjović, Ivo Režek, Moissey Kogan, Grigorij Musatov, Boris Grigorjev) to seek their interest in exhibiting art in Prague and agreement to begin negotiations with VOUB for this purpose. Negotiations were then taken up by artist F. V. Mokrý on behalf of the gallery. For both artists Alšova síň symbolised the rebirth of VOUB and the promise of a ‘better future’. With regular exhibitions of good art by respected or talented young artists they sought to disrupt the focus on national work that VOUB had been set on to that time and that was preventing progressive French trends from having any impact. VOUB’s lack of interest in the emerging modern art in Paris, the centre of the art world, revealed it to be a traditionalist organisation within the Czech arts scene, and its conservativism made it the target of much criticism from supporters of its rival, Spolek výtvarných umělců Mánes (Mánes Association of Fine Artists). In order to overcome the perception of a sharp opposition in how the two associations related to modern art, Zrzavý and Mokrý tried to present the Prague cultural scene with a diverse array of distinctive forms of artistic expression that were freely finding a place for themselves in the development of modern art in Paris and in many European countries, not just in the west, but also in the north, east, and south. Modest financial resources, however, prevented this grand plan from being fulfilled. Exhibitions of the work of Foujita, Waroquier, Dufy and Zadkine never took place. The failure of this plan ultimately created the distorted impression that in the mid-1920s VOUB was primarily devoting itself to building stronger ties with southern Slav artists.

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Reviews

Kateřina Horníčková

Dušan Foltýn – Jan Klípa – Pavlína Mašková – Petr Sommer – Vít Vlnas (edd.), Otevři zahradu rajskou. Benediktini v srdci Evropy 800–1300

pp. 73-77

Jakub Hauser

Julie Jančárková, Ruská malba, kresba a grafika od 19. do poloviny 20. století ze sbírky Galerie výtvarného umění v Náchodě

pp. 77-78

Petr Bišof

Agnes Tieze (ed.), Oskar Kokoschka a pražská kulturní scéna

pp. 79-80

Iva Knobloch

Marta Sylvestrová – Jindřich Toman (edd.), Zdeněk Rossmann. Horizonty modernismu

pp. 80-82

Rostislav Švácha

Vladimir Papernyj. Kultura 2. Architektura stalinské epochy

pp. 82-84

Annotations

pp. 85-87

Acquisitions of Art History Sources

pp. 88-90

Česká resumé / English Summaries

pp. 91-95

Editing Principles for Publications in Umění / Art

pp. 96-97