Art History Conference NORDIK 2012, October 24th-27th 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden

Art Theory as Visual Epistemology I-III

Chair: Harald Klinke, Ph.D., Lecturer, Department of Art History, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany,



S7          Art Theory as Visual Epistemology I: Theory

Rethinking vision in eighteenth-century images of the blind

Georgina Cole, Ph. D.

National Art School Sydney, Australia


Voir ou lire: maps as art – art as maps

Karolina Uggla, Ph. D. cand.

Stockholm University, Sweden


Without ‚Pictorial De-tour’: The Case of the Architectural Image

Lutz Robbers, Ph. D.

Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany


S16     Art Theory as Visual Epistemology II: History

Making the idea visible: Drawing as an epistemological medium in Bellori's Lives

Elisabeth Oy-Marra, Ph. D., Professor

Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany


History, biography, translation, interpretation?

The literary theory of art and the nature of portraits

Martin Olin, Ph. D.

Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden


„Mental Images“ of Jonathan Richardson– an 18th century forerunner of Bildwissenschaften?

Bärbel Küster, Ph. D.

Staatliche Akademie der bildenden Künste Stuttgart, Germany


The Rivalry Between Art and Nature in Seventeenth-Century Italian Art Theory

Ioana Magureanu, Ph. D. cand.

National University of Art, Bucharest, Romania


S21       Art Theory as Visual Epistemology III: Presence

Truth of Nature – Empiricism in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Landscape Painting in Düsseldorf

Anne-Maria Pennonen, Ph. D. cand.

Helsinki University, Finland


Historical discoveries and their significance for the virtual image in art

Romana Schuler

University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria


(Re-) Creating Order: Narrativity and Implied World Views in Pictures

Michael Ranta, Ph. D.

Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund, Sweden


Tracing Out Space In Videoperformance

Riikka Niemelä, M. A.

University of Turku, Finland


Call for Papers: Art Theory as Visual Epistemology

Art History Conference NORDIK 2012

How can we know? What does knowledge mean? These were the fundamental questions of epistemology in the 17th century. In response to continental rationalism the British empiricist John Locke proposed that the only knowledge humans can have is acquired a posterior. In a discussion of the human mind, he argues, the source of knowledge is sensual experience – mostly vision.

With the central claim of epistemology art became a question of truth and sound knowledge: Is the artist able to identify truth just like a scientist does? How can the artist contribute to a collective search for truth? Can pictures and statues represent knowledge about the world? Joshua Reynolds, the president of the Royal Academy in London, answered clearly: Yes, it is the task of the artist to see and compare nature in order to abstract the idea behind the mere visual. He stated that this “mental labour” is central to the artist’s occupation. Moreover, the artist is able to give those seen and imagined truths a representation on canvas and, thus, communicate ideas and add to the collective knowledge by visual means.

Reynolds’ unequivocal view rebuffs a much older point: Plato in his Politeia described the task of the artist as that of a mere copyist of visual nature. Being unable to have direct access to the realm of ideas, the artist is therefore placed socially even lower than the craftsman. Centuries of art critics have refused to accept this definition and tried to upvalue the potential of visual representation as a major intellectual task. William Blake for example said, art is able to represent truths, but not in the strict rational sense of Reynolds. Accordingly, the real process of creating truths is the process of producing the artwork itself, not the preceding thought process.

The making of art is when real creativity and imagination abounds – an approach that reappears in modernist thinking. Questions of the epistemic potential of art can be found throughout centuries (Bellori, de Piles, Félibien and others) until today. However, those are not questions of art alone, but of the re-presentational value of images in general. The history of art theory can contribute much to recent discussions in Visual Studies (Moxey) and Bildwissenschaften (Belting) by showing the historic dimension of arguments on what images are or should be. “What is knowledge?” is as much a philosophic question as “What is an image?” (Boehm). Objective representation has been discussed in various contexts, such as in 18th century natural sciences (Daston) and becomes essential with the rise of photography and today’s digital image (Mitchell).

This session should therefore gather approaches on images in the light of the epistemological capacity of images, the process of image production and the role of the producer of images.

Papers should deal with questions such as:

Chair: Harald Klinke, Ph.D., Dept. of Art History, Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen,

Call for papers by January 15th, 2012

We invite paper proposals for the 21 sessions spanning a wide range of topics.

Submit a 1-2 page abstract, brief c.v. (two pages max.), and full contact information by January 15th , 2012.

NB: Direct your communication both to the chairs of relevant sessions and to the conference organisers at:

This is one of many sessions at the NORDIK conference spanning a wide range of topics. See

The 10th Triannual Nordik Committee for Art History Conference NORDIK 2012


The Critical Production of Display and Interpretation in Art History

October 24th-27th 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden

Display and interpretation are central to all forms of art historical practice. Take, for instance, the interpretation of images through reproductions, the display and interpretation of artworks in installations, ephemeral gestures, the juxtaposition of non-verbal and verbal signs on printed pages, walls, in the air, etcetera. Whether approached from the standpoint of museums, academia, publishing houses or outside institutions, display is no mere function of interpretation. It is a component in a complex interpretative situation. This is no innocent situation but one that can be regarded as part of discursive practice, where the task of presentation of objects and images and representation of art historical meaning and knowledge – consciously or unconsciously – embrace elements of historical evaluation, ideological perceptions and epistemological standpoints.

These questions are of seminal importance for historians of art across disciplines, institutional habitats, research fields, or of preferred research objects. An obvious background is the discussions of the last decade about changing forms of presentation, visual technologies and strategies of interpretation. This conference encourages critical reflection on these issues.

More information:

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