Academic Session 5: OU 2012

38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair
The Open University, Milton Keynes
29 - 31 March 2012

'Art’s Insiders: New Histories of Europe’s Academies'

Session Convenors:

Keren Hammerschlag, King’s College London,

Hannah Williams, University of Oxford,

For centuries, institutions like the Royal Academy in London, the Académie Royale (later the Académie des Beaux Arts) in Paris, and the Accademia di San Luca in Rome were the epicentres of European art practice, theory and education. For artists, having the letters ‘RA’ after their name, or the opportunity to show works at the Salons or the Summer Exhibitions, promised elevated social standing and commercial success. As institutions, Academies developed principles and ideals that dominated artistic production throughout the period. In art history, however, the ‘Academy’ has been variously recast as staid, kitsch and archaic. According to critics, ‘academic’ art represents the inert centre against which avant-garde innovation and originality was pitted. But in their time, Europe’s Academies were anything but static or homogenous. Established by groups of artists resisting under-developed or conservative attitudes to art, these communities often began as innovative alternatives; they were home to radical new approaches, and became sites of heated debate in response to political, theoretical and social shifts. This session seeks a re-evaluation of art’s insiders. What did it mean to be at the centre of these powerful institutions? And how can we effectively revisit the Academy without falling into the trap of reviving dead, white, male, bourgeois artists? Papers will take a new look at the ‘Academy’ and academicians in the period 1600 to 1900, addressing a range of issues, and paying particular attention to sociological, anthropological and cultural theory approaches that take art objects as their focus.


Basile Baudez
(Université Paris-Sorbonne) Crafts inside the Fine Art Academy: Russian experiments in the Eighteenth Century

Katie Scott (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Hannah Williams (University of Oxford) Institutional Things: Towards a Material History of the Académie Royale

Alister Mill (University of Exeter) Getting past the jury: artistic exposure in the 1840s

Fae Brauer (University of New South Wales/University of East London) Bouguereau’s Butter: Lubricating the Salon des Artistes Français

Annette Wickham (Royal Academy of Arts) The Inside Track – JMW Turner and the Royal Academy Schools

Jongwoo Jeremy Kim (University of Louisville) A Portrait of a Young Man as a Nymph: Henry Scott Tuke, R.A. and His Academic Follies