Analysing the contribution of art to the reconfiguration of Europe after World War II, the study aims at a new perspective: Whereas a still effective art history of the Cold War established the dominance of the two political systems, the approach of this study is completly different. Based on the idea that cultural spaces are formed by constant dynamics, of which art is one of them, the project conceives of art as an important factor in establishing culture and the cultural identity of postwar Europe.
The project has three thematic fields: material, form, and medium. In Material and Process: Experiment + Tradition we shall examine Asger Jorn's engagement with clay/pottery and Anni Albers' engagement with threads/weaving. Focusing on this, we discuss concepts of universalism that were used by artists to reintegrate Europe into a history of civilization. In Form. Figuration and Abstraction we shall examine two different modes of visualising reality. Looking at sculptures by Betty Rea and Barbara Hepworth, we do not stress their differences but highlight their hidden similarities. The latent structures of their artworks figure a historical situation that is unique to postwar Europe. In Medium. Dynamics of Meaning in Photobooks, the focus lies on specific printed media that are close to mass media. Starting with Martien Coppen's photobooks and writings, we shall analyse how visual rhetorics of prewar times are re-used and transformed in the postwar period.
The study is a contribution to a horizontal global art history which considers Europe as a heterogeneous and important region of our world, albeit not as its norm. Our cooperation with specialists on art history of Eastern and Southeastern Europe are an integral part of this project.