Event: Innovation and Acculturation. The Émigré Art Historian and Britain

  • 8 October 2019

Pen and ink architectural building plans The Innovation and Acculturation: The Émigré Art Historians and Britain conference on 5 and 6 November aims to reappraise and – where appropriate – to challenge the received narrative about the history of art history in Britain.

Art History as an academic discipline in Britain is commonly regarded as a German import. Before the 1930s, British art writing was allegedly the domain of the amateur and connoisseur. This only changed radically with the influx of émigré scholars – most of them of German-Jewish descent – to Britain after 1933. These highly skilled professional art historians played a pivotal role in developing the research and teaching programmes of both the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes.

The conference’s aim is to situate the work of the German(-Jewish) émigré art historians in a wider sociology of British Academia, and the intellectual debates within and beyond art historical scholarship. The conference will seek to re-evaluate just how ‘German’ British art history became between 1920 and 1970. The timeframe allows to take into account both the British traditions of art writing before the arrival of the ‘Hitler émigrés’, and the émigré’s legacies up to the redefinition of the discipline brought about by the ‘New Art History’ of the 1970s.

For more information and ticket details please click here. This conference is supported by a Paul Mellon Centre Event Support Grant.