CFP: Artistic mobility in the modern era: 17th and 18th centuries (Paris, Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art / DFK Paris, France, Oct 27–28, 2022)

International conference, co-organized by the DFK Paris and the Université Grenoble Alpes/LARHRA

The spatial turn has greatly impacted our understanding of certain artistic phenomena. It has, among other things, allowed for a reassessment of the geography of art, one that should nonetheless be updated and nuanced.

Deadline: 30 Apr 2022

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and many others have exposed the possibilities for a history of art that offers a “new geography,” which challenges in particular old geographical concepts of space as something stable, immutable, and constant. On the contrary, through a juxtaposition of the spatial dimension of art (geography) and its temporal dimension (history), the boundaries that we tend to draw between different cultural, political, and even national spaces prove to be in motion, in continual dynamic evolution. The question of identity arises, of the characteristics and spatial confines of a school, a style, etc. that was forged in a certain local context, such as a city, a court, or a country, and to which must be added the many inspirations that have come from other spaces over time, due to the circulation of ideas, objects, and people.

In order to better understand this spatial complexity of artistic production in the modern era, it is necessary to carefully consider the mechanisms and issues of one of its principal drivers: artistic mobility, including the circulation of objects as well as of people. While several recent studies concerning the art market and collecting practices have illuminated certain aspects of the mobility of objects on an international and even a global scale, the mobility of artists has not yet been the subject of a systematic and comprehensive examination for the 17th and 18th centuries. Recent research has been focusing on specific phenomena, geographical contexts and artistic groups, such as artistic mobility from and to the Netherlands, the travel to Italy, the Schildersbent in Rome, artists in exile during the French Revolution, or Huguenot artists and craftsmen in Britain.

The conference aims to bring together and to extend these different geographical and thematic approaches to artistic mobility, in order to identify their general mechanisms, local particularities, and overall methodological problems: How does the analysis of the mobility of artists in the modern era enable us to shape the cartography of art differently? Studying the mobility of artists calls into question our criteria for classifying artistic agents and objects and ascribing them a geographical and cultural identity. The movements of artists, their journeys between different countries and cultural centers, necessitate that we think in new terms: instead of a single national identity, the concept of multiple identities – already much discussed for the contemporary period – could be useful. In some cases, it might also be appropriate to speak of deracinated identities, which can result from or generate difficulties to adapt to foreign places, cultures and work conditions. How, then, might we establish patterns of interpretation that take into account these multiple and hybrid identities resulting from artistic journeys and practices across borders?

We welcome proposals that engage these questions through case studies, which can range from the individual journey of a single artist to veritable group movements – whether within the same country, within Europe, or on a global scale. The various motives for the movements of artists will be explored – training, exploitation of a new market, political migration – along with the impact of these circulations on the careers and production of artists. The purpose is to contribute to the social history of artists in the modern era and to better understand the practical conditions of this mobility before 1800, when the means of transportation and communication and the political and societal structures at times created a difficult and restrictive environment for artists on the move. The conference will also be an opportunity to discuss the contribution of digital humanities to the analysis and visualization of the routes, stages, and networks of mobile artists. One particular stake of the study of artistic mobility is to finally make known hitherto overlooked figures: too often, artists in movement do not appear in historiographical accounts; they escape traditional categories of classification and find little visibility. In turn, certain established art-historical hierarchies can be challenged, for example, those linked to a fixed cartography of art or those that still distinguish between “high art” and “low art”, between canonical artists and marginalized figures.

Proposals are due by April 30, 2022. Papers can be presented in French or English (about 20 minutes); proposals (maximum of 800 words) and a short curriculum vitae should be submitted to:

For more information, see