Displaying Art in the Early Modern Period (1450–1750): Exhibiting practices and exhibition spaces

Pamela Bianchi, Paris 8 University, pamelabianchi1@gmail.com

Over the years, despite the increased interest in spatial issues and some iconic studies (Luckhurst, Haskell, Koch), little attention has been paid to the long-term history of the exhibition space and exhibition-making practices. Before the appearance of the first painting exhibitions and the spaces specially designed to show collections, the idea of showing art was mainly related to the habit of dressing up spaces for political and religious commemorations, cultural festivals and marketing strategies. Thus, various venues (palaces, cloisters, façades, squares, pavilions, auction houses, fairs, shops and so forth), where sociability was performed and experienced, ended up becoming temporary and privileged platforms of exhibiting.

What were those places and events? What aesthetic, cultural, social and political discourses intersected with the early idea of exhibition space? How did showing art shape a new vocabulary within these events and, vice versa, how did these occasions condition exhibiting practices? Who were the producers, actors and spectators of these processes, devices and spaces? How can we relate early exhibition logic with art history and exhibition design theories? Which kinds of sources (treatises, depictions) are involved?

The panel proposes to reconsider those events and habits that contributed to defining exhibition-making practices and to shaping the imagery of the exhibition space in the early modern period (1450–1750). Also, it seeks to define a new geography of exhibiting, not limited to Europe but expanded to include exhibiting practices in the early modern Americas, Africa and Asia. It encourages connections between art history, exhibition studies and architectural history, and studies crossing micro-histories and long-term changes, in order to open new perspectives of study and to foster historiographical research through an interdisciplinary approach.
 


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