Call for Session Chairs - 35th CIHA International Congress in the History of Art “Motion: Transformation” (Florence, Italy; Deadline 15 Apr. 2018)

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April 15, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Literature, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Theology

Call for Chairs for Sessions of the 35th International Congress in the History of Art “Motion”

The 35th CIHA World Congress presents a unique experiment: for the first time a CIHA congress will take place in two different locations and in two different moments: in Florence, Italy, in September 2019 and in São Paolo, Brazil, in autumn 2020. It is dedicated to the general topic of “Motion” and invites the international community of scholars to discuss fundamental aspects of art and architecture under this heading in a broad transcultural perspective, from earliest times to the present. The Congress is conceived as a strong collaboration between the two national CIHA committees, who are responsible for their respective venues and will also create formats for a dialogue between the two events such as joint sessions in each place. The venues focus on two major, though not mutually exclusive aspects of “Motion”: Transformation in Florence and Migrations in São Paolo. The two committees are pleased to announce this intense collaboration and are looking forward to an extraordinary transcontinental debate about the most challenging concerns of art history and related fields today.


The Florentine venue of the 35th CIHA congress proposes the title Motion: Transformation as an invitation to study the specific “life” of artworks, artifacts and images: animation, “liveliness”, efficacy or “emanation” are phenomena that in many cultures, since prehistoric times, are linked to crafted objects, images or rites. Be it religious energy, magical qualities or aesthetic vivification, artifacts are produced, dwell and could be consumed in a great variety of attributed forms of agency. One figure the Florentine congress wants to rethink in this horizon is that of the artist or “maker”, seen in a transcultural perspective. We might refer to the myth of Daedalus, legendary creator of automata, or to Neo-platonic philosophy of late antiquity, according to which the animated simulacrum represents an inescapable element of the link between humans and the cosmos. In subsequent Christian thought, instead, such connections could contribute to the negative conception of the idol. This is only one example which shows the multiple constellations of objects and images in specific world views and cultural practices, often connected to astrology or political theologies. The combination of art historical and anthropological expertise could be a strong point of the congress, to better understand the position of the “animated” object in the formation and transformation of collective identities and in transcultural negotiations. In fact, the cross-cultural gaze can be a means to “vivify” the images and symbols of other cultures of the present or the past, even if often in negative terms as diabolic or inhabited by demons. On the other end of the scale is a discourse of art that attributes to works, images and created objects virtues which are due to a specific aesthetic quality of matter and shape. This can involve an appreciation of subtle crafting and ingenious vivification of representations from nature and the social world. The metamorphotic dimension of such artistic creation (making one matter appear in another) contributes to the celebration of a work as magical and animated but it is important in the congress to differentiate these various dimensions, even if they are shared by many cultures. The congress invites comparative approaches or explorations of dynamics of connectivity. In its broad chronological and geographical range it is specifically interested in epochal changes and the processes of globalization under colonial or postcolonial premises. 

In the context of new production methods developed during the Industrial Revolution artistic practices were cast out, whereas the aura could shift from the work of art itself to the figure of the creator. One may even think of terms of social theories such as alienation and estrangement which in their negation evoke concepts of creative work. Already evident in early movements from Romanticism to Symbolism, this “metamorphosis” was pushed further by the twentieth century through the contributions from the anthropological perspective and psychoanalytic mythologies.

Call for Chairs for Sessions of the 35th International Congress in the History of Art “Motion: Transformation”

From the Italian board of the CIHA: professors Marzia Faietti, Elena Fumagalli, Tommaso Casini, Giorgio Marini, Massimiliano Rossi.

Deadline 15th April 2018

The Florence organizing committee for the 35th Congress in the History of Art entitled Motion: Transformation invites expressions of interest from the international community of art historians. Each session will have two chairs an international and Italian chair. These two co-chairs will act as a committee to define and refine the concept of the session and to select lecturers for the congress in Florence 2019. Applications for Chairs may be made by academics or independent scholars. We want to remind applicants that no member of the CIHA Board and no one having been a Chair in the Beijing Congress (2016) can apply for serving as Chair of a session in the Florence Congress.

Applicants should:

1. Be thoroughly acquainted with the most recent developments in the field of art history relevant to the topic of their session.

2. Be able to identify global experts in the appropriate fields and to collaborate with them.

3. To be present at CIHA 2019 Florence.

Applicants should send the following information to the CIHA Italian Board at the following address:

1. Number and title of the proposed Session

2. 1-2 pages explaining the perspective they intend to give to the Session and the main ideas they would like to be developed and discussed

3. A first draft of the call for papers to be discussed with the Italian board.

4. A short CV stressing the activities and publications related to the session.

Deadline for applications will be April 15th, 2018.

Session themes:

1) The divine artist

2) Matter and materiality: from removal to re-enactment

3) Art and nature. Cultures of collecting

4) Art and religions

5) Sign and writing

6) The eye and the hand, from project to product

7) Artist, power, public

8) Artists, critics, and viewers

9) Connecting session between Firenze 2019 and São Paulo 2020

Full sessions descriptions are available at:

Contact Info: 

The Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art (CIHA) is an international committee that endeavors to improve art historical research. It has been created in 1930 in order to develop the historical and methodological study of artistic activities and productions; to ensure permanent links between art historians of all countries; to improve methods of art historical teaching and research; and to increase the research resources available to art historians. It stimulates international meetings of art historians and coordinates the dissemination of information about research undertaken under the aegis of the committee. Its conferences, publications and research projects disseminate information and publicity about art historical activities world-wide.