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Istituto di storia e teoria dell'arte e dell'architettura


EVENTO RINVIATO Giornata di studi_National Designs





Giornata di studi


National Designs
Intersections of applied arts and polemic discourse in the long nineteenth


sabato 25 aprile 2020
ore 9.00-17.00, Palazzo Turconi, aula T0.05

in collaborazione con l'Associazione svizzera di semiotica e teoria della cultura SGKS

National categories are so closely entwined with our understanding of cultures as to appear almost inevitable. In the histories of art and design, they go by the name of "styles," having become a firm part of this field of study when it was first established as an academic discipline in the nineteenth century. But as well as historical and archaeological categories, "styles" in the arts of this period represented national classifications. As artists, designers, historians, and architects began to study Gothic architecture, Chinese painting, and Indian decorative arts, the preoccupation with their identity in the global world became increasingly apparent.

Different fields of cultural studies in the nineteenth century (archaeology, ethnology and art history) perceived a firm link between classifying material objects and putting into categories those people who made and owned them. But this connection was not only projected onto historical or found material. By a similar logic, the identity of contemporary architectures and of decorative things was entwined with the identities of national groups. The character of the maker or designer was thought to be reflected in the character of the artefact, which in turn went on to influence its future owners or users. Artistic movements began to argue for their projects in national terms, and endeavours in design education increasingly located products on the international stage. The nation precipitated and reproduced itself in its material creations.

This study day will investigate the overlap between dynamics of national identity and the trajectory of the applied arts in the nineteenth century. It will address questions about the place of national design in relation to various discourses across Europe and the world that hammered out ideals of national belonging. Did creators in the applied arts subtly contribute their own ideas to the national debates? How did their work reflect the growing and changing consciousness of the nation? And how did they deal with its contradictions, contingencies and exclusions? “National Designs” will examine how the newly formalized artistic professions negotiated statements of national belonging in Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary, and in what ways national polemics interacted with new creations of design.

Speakers: Ariane Varela Braga (University of Zürich / Rome), Stefan Muthesius (University of East Anglia), Rebecca Houze (Northern Illinois University), Emilie Oléron Evans (Queen Mary University of London).

Sonja Hildebrand (SGKS, USI Mendrisio)
Elena Chestnova (USI Mendrisio)



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