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Vortrag: Etienne Jollet



von 18:15 bis 19:30




Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Katharina-von-Bora-Str. 10, München, Vortragssaal 242, II. OG

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Grounds. Topography, causality, presence in French painting of the 18th century

In various European languages a same word (ground, Grund, grond, fond, fondo, fundo) describes simultaneously a topographical and a causal feature of visual representation. This lecture is about the significance of such a relationship for the history of art, especially in the context of 18th century French painting, where various aspects associated with the causal dimension in the representation: imitation, verisimilitude, narration, are questioned; and this, as an aspect of the general crisis concerning certitude once described as the «Crisis of European Mind» (Paul Hazard). - which is also a way to discuss the «primary cause» - God, nature, or man. I will try to show how causality is confronted and limited, in its topographical inscription in painting or sculpture, by another modality: the mere effect of presence - of motifs, of the scene, of the work.  Finally, I will question the relevance of such a link created by the polysemy of a word through a reflexion about the heuristic power of metaphor in art historical discourse 


Etienne Jollet is Professor of Early Modern Art History at the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and currently holder of the «Pensées françaises contemporaines» Professur (Centre Marc-Bloch, Berlin & Europa-Universität, Frankfurt/Oder). He studied Art history, History, French literature in various institutions: the Ecole du Louvre, the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, the University Paris VII Denis-Diderot, the Department of Art History at Oxford University under the supervision of Francis Haskell, the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, where he got his PhD under the supervision of Hubert Damisch and Louis Marin, then his «habilitation à diriger les recherches» at Paris Ouest Nanterre-La Défense under the supervision of Christian Michel. He has been a fellow of the Clark Art Institute and of the Kolleg-Forschergruppe BildEvidenz, invited professor at Columbia University.

His work follows three main directions. The first is the relationship between art and knowledge – about gravity and balance in art (Figures de la pesanteur. Fragonard, Newton et les hasards de l’escarpolette, 1998) or the notion of place in the still-life (La Nature morte et la place des choses. L’objet et son lieu dans l’art occidental, 2007). The second is methodology and historiography of art history, from art criticism in the 18th century (he edited in 2002 the complete works of the first major French art critic, La Font de Saint-Yenne) to more recent figures, with a special interest in Alois Riegl (he co-translated and published the French edition of The Netherlandish Group Painting (2007). Central is for him, as the director of the Tempus project (2011-2016), the issue of temporality. The third is the link between art and power as in Jean et François Clouet (1997) or in the book on the French royal monuments of the Ancien régime he is currently completing, dealing especially with the notion of «ground» (La Figure et le Fond. Les monuments publics aux rois de France à l’époque moderne, Genève, Droz).