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Vortrag Catherine MacKenzie



von 18:15 bis 20:00




Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Vortragsraum 242, II. OG, Katharina-von-Bora-Straße 10, 80333 München

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On the Importance of Teaching Provenance Studies: the Life Stories of Objects and Social Justice

Öffentlicher Abendvortrag begleitend zur Winter School Provenance Research des "Forschungsverbunds Provenienzforschung Bayern"

When an art historian publishes a photograph of an artwork identified as being from a “private collection,” he or she cuts off the object from its provenance - its life story, its movement in time through various contexts, through various hands. This same wounding takes place when a curator gives minimal information on a museum label or an auction house provides a generic listing of previous owners, with empty phrases like “by descent from previous owner” being deployed as if they had meaning. The perceived value of establishing provenance, once considered a vital although time consuming part of the craft of art connoisseurship, began to wane in the last quarter of the twentieth century, ironically at a time when it was very much needed to address the continuing circulation of art looted during the Holocaust. Based on her experiences in the university classroom, the speaker will discuss the challenges of reintroducing provenance studies into the education of art historians, challenges that do not, as is sometimes assumed, revolve around student resistance to precise, demanding work but rather point to reluctances in other zones of the art world.

Prof. Dr. Catherine MacKenzie
Catherine MacKenzie is Professor in Art History at Concordia University, Montreal (Canada). She received her doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1984, specializing in eighteenth-century French architectural theory. She has held a large number of administrative posts at Concordia (e.g. Chair of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, 2001-2004), and has shifted her academic interests to issues of racism as they pertain to nineteenth and twentieth century art worlds. Her specific research concerns follow two distinct trajectories: the dynamics of expatriate production by American and British women living in China in the first half of the twentieth century and its reception 'back home' and the need, in light of the intervention of Nazi 'cultural policies' and gaps in existing art history scholarship, to reclaim the roles of German-Jewish collectors and art dealers in the first third of the twentieth century.

In the fall of 2006, Professor MacKenzie curated for the FoFA Gallery an exhibition entitled Auktion 392: Reclaiming the Galerie Stern, Düsseldorf for which several MA students provided research assistance, as well as entries for the accompanying catalogue. Auktion 392 travelled to The Leo Baeck Institute in New York City in spring 2007, and the Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art in London, England, in mid-September 2007. Under the management of the Ben Uri Gallery, the exhibition has since appeared at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, several venues in England and was back in North America in 2011-2012, with two showings in museums in Florida.

Research & Teaching Interests:
Race and Representation
Cross-Cultural Dynamics in Twentieth-Century China
Art Collecting
Provenance and the Politics of Art Restitution