Research Conference, Oslo, 22–24 October 2014
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

Please note:
The abstract submission deadline has been postponed until May 12.

Initiated by the Ateneum Art Museum (The Finnish National Gallery), and established in 2009, the ‘European Revivals’ research network aims to reflect upon national revivals in European art around 1900. This will be the third in a series of conferences that focus on this topic. The first two were held in Helsinki (Ateneum) in 2009 and 2012. A fourth conference will take place in Edinburgh in 2017. The European Revivals project will culminate in a publication and an exhibition, generated by the Ateneum Art Museum, and opening in Helsinki in autumn 2017.
This particular conference is a three-way initiative by The National Museum (Oslo), the Ateneum Art Museum (Helsinki) and the Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh) and will run from 22–24 October 2014 in Oslo. The event is intended as a meeting point for both museums and university scholars. There will be three keynote speakers, each speaking on one of the three main themes of the conference. A detailed program of the conference will be announced by the end of June. There will be a moderate conference fee.

General description of the topic:
Towards the end of the nineteenth-century, European artists, architects and designers began to express a new profound interest in their unique local pasts and cultural inheritances. This growing sense of identity prompted a major flowering of Nationalist debate concerning the fast disappearing regional cultures throughout Europe. This was a discourse largely shaped by the desire within several countries for cultural and artistic, and ultimately social and economic, independence.
For those countries that had not yet achieved their independence it became imperative to promote their unique distinctive cultural present as unbroken with the past. It is well known that countries on such fringes of Europe’s borders such as Finland, Norway, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary had unique and far-reaching cultural renaissances in the form of ‘Revivals’; it is less well known that, although each was distinctive, they also had much in common. Direct connections existed, for instance, between Finnish and Hungarian artists, or Irish and Scottish artists. Several other factors also contributed to interaction and exchange of ideas, from the educational and exhibiting opportunities in Paris, London and Vienna, the foundation of national collections of museums and research into vernacular and folk cultures, new forms of integrated art and architecture in various local manifestations of the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, to the major role played by displays at the International Exhibitions and World’s Fairs of the period.
As the new century dawned national mythological epics and literature, such as the Kalevala in Finland, the Cuchulainn legend in Ireland, the stories of Ossian in Scotland became a major vehicle of cultural expression and created some of the most important artworks of the age. Several of the most influential artists of the period were also key figures in this movement. They worked across all artistic media, from small-scale traditional domestic crafts and large-scale design to major schemes of architecture. The influence of unique local artistic traditions found fullest expression in form of indigenous folk art and, although the globalizing industrial revolution threatened many such folk traditions with extinction, at the heart of the ‘revivals’ movement was a desire to refine art and society for the modern age.
The aim of the ‘European Revivals’ project is to highlight the artistic and cultural similarities and differences between these countries. There has never been a joint project that examines this phenomenon on a wider-scale and that has sought to analyze the multifarious connections and correspondences, which helped shape the identities of each of these modern nations.

Proposals on the three following topics are sought:

Art Criticism and Art Theory
Art criticism grew exceptionally in the 19th century and was a central part of the modern art system that emerged in European cities during the 1800s. Art critics played an important role in art debates and had considerable power to define. What kind of issues and perspectives dominate art criticism around 1900 in the countries that this conference addresses? To what extent, for instance, were the critics concerned with establishing a national identity in art? Are there similarities in the use of concepts and the theoretical sources that were dominant? And how was the criticism in these areas compared with those nations that already had a long art historical tradition, such as France and Germany?

Domestic architecture as a model for aesthetic values
In the mid-19th century a new focus on the domestic architecture and artifacts emerges, as the home gradually becomes the center of family life. At the heart of this transformation is the notion of the artist and his home, and one of the first influential examples is William Morris`s Red House. In the last decades of the 19th century the artist`s home gradually becomes an important topic in magazines, architecture and the visual arts, and the phenomenon reaches its peak in the period of the fin de siècle. In light of the artists’ eagerness to present their homes through photography, drawing and painting, it is tempting to interpret the artist home as a kind of visualization of the artists’ own artistic manifesto. Did they in fact create their homes as models for social, aesthetic and political change?

Women in the Creative Sphere
It is well known that the end of the 19th Century is the historical moment when the longstanding material, social, and cultural impediments that women faced began to give way, creating conditions more conducive to their artistic growth and success. Studios were increasingly open to, and rented by, women, who began to establish their own spaces for promoting their work. Paris was, of course, unrivalled in the opportunities it offered aspiring artists, especially in terms of education and training. In what ways did women artists, architects and designers take advantage of these new opportunities? How did they navigate the still male-dominated art world? What kind of artistic and educational opportunities existed for female artists in the countries that this conference addresses? What was their contribution to the idea of a ‘National Revival’ in art? Papers on these and all other issues that highlight the place and role of the female artist/architect/designer are welcome.

We invite writers to scrutinize all aspects of these three topics, in regard to the revival phenomenon of the period around 1900.


Proposals for the conference must include (in English):
a) an abstract of maximum 2,000 characters summarizing your argument
b) a brief (one paragraph) academic résumé, and
c) your full contact information .
Papers will be 20 minutes in length, followed by 10 minutes for questions and discussion.
The proposal and CV should be received by May 1 2014. Please send it as attachment to Jeanette Svendsen at: Jeanette.svendsen (at) Write European Revivals and title of the session you would like to contribute to in the subject line of your email. Questions may be addressed to: Vibeke.hansen(at) Your participation will be confirmed by June 30.

The selection committee: Vibeke Waallann Hansen and Birgitte Sauge of the National Museum, Oslo, Frances Fowle of the Scottish National Gallery, Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff (Ateneum Art Museum)and Riitta Ojanperä (Director of Finnish National Gallery Collections department), of the National Gallery of Finland.
Organizing committee: Vibeke Waallann Hansen, Birgitte Sauge and Knut Astrup Bull of the National Museum, Oslo.