Engagement in times of revolt: the political stakes of international art criticism during the Cold War


Engagement in times of revolt: the political stakes of international art criticism during the Cold War

PRISME International Symposium in collaboration with MoDe(s)

5 December 2017

Archives de la critique d’art, Rennes


The symposium addresses the multiple crossings between the practice of criticism, art and politics since 1945, contemplating the art critic as a political actor that interacted with changing historical and geographical contexts. Inseparable from the Cold War context and the moments of revolt that followed each other during this period, especially the 1960s, art critics’ activities in the second half of the 20th century are marked by fluctuating constellations and interdependencies within intellectual networks. They influenced the proper status of art criticism, torn between socio-political emergencies, new challenges and crises.

Paying particular attention to national and international political conflicts, as well as internal crises within the sphere of art criticism, this meeting of specialists proposes to examine discourses and exchanges from the 1950s to the 1970s, in particular those developed around the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). Relying on an extensive study of unpublished archives, the symposium attempts to locate specific cases, often transnational, illustrating the political engagement of critics from a triple perspective: in terms of their reactivity – faithful to its etymological mission of “sift through” (passer au crible) -, their ability to intervene in the public space and their forward-looking force in a changing society.

This event is the result of a collaboration between MoDe(s) research project from the University of Barcelona and the PRISME program, hosted by the Archives de la Critique d’Art.



9.30 > Welcome

10.00 > Introduction by Paula Barreiro López (Universitat de Barcelona, main researcher of MoDe(s)) and Antje Kramer-Mallordy (Université Rennes 2, coordinator of PRISME)

Richard Leeman (Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Situation de la critique d’art : l’Assemblée générale de l’AICA en 1968

11.00 > Julie Sissia (Sciences Po), La contestation, le terrorisme, l’art contemporain. La RFA, modèle ou repoussoir pour la critique d’art française ?

11.45 > Juan Albarrán (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Art, criticism and politics in Spanish Conceptualism

13.00 > Pause


14.30 > Juliane Debeusscher (Universitat de Barcelona), « Aussi longtemps que durera cette nuit du 21 août. » Échanges entre critiques d’art et artistes français et tchécoslovaques dans les années 1960-1970 

15.15 > Mathilde Arnoux (Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art), Les représentations des relations artistiques Est-Ouest au prisme de la critique d’art (années 1960-1970)

16.00 > Pause

16.15 > Sophie Cras (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), « Include us out »: les critiques d’art américains à l’AICA

17.00 > Closing debate

Free entrance

Download the program

Location :
Archives de la critique d’art
4 allée Marie Berhaut – Bât. B
F-35000 RENNES


Archives de la critique d’art
EA 1279 Histoire et critique des arts
Maison des Sciences de l’Homme en Bretagne
Project Modernidad(es) Descentralizadas : Arte, política y contracultura en el eje transatlántico durante la Guerra Fría ( HAR2014-53834-P), Universitat de Barcelona
Paula Barreiro López
Antje Kramer-Mallordy