The long-contested notion of modernism dominates art-historical accounts of the twentieth century, just as competing definitions of the term are pivotal in the more recent evolution of art historical and critical discourse. Debates around modernism have been at the centre of Tates concerns for many years. The acquisition and display of works in a wide variety of international modernist styles as well as responses to tendencies beyond the West continue to define the development of Tates twentieth-century collection. Often linked with notions of the avant-garde, modernist artists tested convention, both aesthetically and materially, and were troubled by their relationships to art world politics and institutions.
Rethinking Modernism aims to build on the tradition of scholarship that seeks to destabilise canonical assumptions about modernism. It will build on the significant research expertise in this field across Tate and by bring together leading thinkers from the academy, from the UK and beyond. Through its programme of seminars and symposia, and postgraduate and post-doctoral scholarship, the Centre will undertake and support the study of modernist topics across the field.
Rethinking Modernism at Tate Liverpool
In the first instance, there will be emphasis on three key themes of particular relevance to Tate Liverpool, where the Centre was convened by the Director, Christoph Grunenberg:
- the questioning and cultural and geographical diversification of the modernist canon (of particular interest to the museum as it works on expanding the global reach of the twentieth-century collection)
- the complex interrelationships and interdisciplinary practices that exist between and around the visual arts and popular culture
- the nature and purpose of artists engagement with political and social issues, in the context of the collapsing of the hierarchical assumptions that underpin so much modernist praxis.
The Centre seeks to support and build on existing research at Tate into related acquisitions, displays and exhibitions, while identifying new themes to explore with a range of collaborators, especially but by no means exclusively in north-west England. Important research questions include:
- What is the tension between the historical phenomenon that is modernism and its legacy and its continuing influence on contemporary art?
- What were the international exchanges between artists during the historical modernist period, and how did those exchanges shape artists ideological and social formations?
- How was modernist art, in its various manifestations, understood beyond its immediate spheres of influence in Europe and North America, in, for example, elsewhere in the Americas, and in Africa and Asia, before and since decolonisation?
- How might we map modernisms complex web of diverse strands? What was its significance then and what is it now? Where, how and why is modernism benefiting from re-appraisal?
- What boundaries did modernist artists recognise and challenge between the forms and styles of fine art and other popular cultural forms?
The Centre runs developmental and reflective seminars centred on Tate Liverpools programme of exhibitions and displays and organises symposia to support new research in these fields. Partnerships and collaborations with other institutions are welcome.
For further information, please contact Dr Christoph Grunenberg, Director, Tate Liverpool, (email email@example.com).