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  • Final Report Summary - OWNREALITY (To each his own reality. The notion of the real in the fine arts of France, West Germany, East Germany and Poland from 1960 to the end of the 1980s.)
ERC

OWNREALITY Report Summary

Project ID: 263560
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

Final Report Summary - OWNREALITY (To each his own reality. The notion of the real in the fine arts of France, West Germany, East Germany and Poland from 1960 to the end of the 1980s.)

Researching the artistic relations between Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War is a challenge. Considering the restricted movement of people and art, and the degree to which art had been permeated by the ideologies of the period, the attempt may seem unrealistic. But consideration of these limitations prompts us to question them. Research into the artistic relations in Europe during the Cold War encourages consideration of how to define those relations and what such relations comprise. Taking as its starting point research into the importance of the notions of real and reality in art discourse and for artistic practices during the period of the Cold War, the project “To Each His Own Reality”, carried out at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris, considered the benefits to be had from a multi-perspectival investigation of a notion for the study of transnational relations.
For six years the project “To each his own reality. The notion of real in the fine arts in France, West Germany, East Germany and Poland between 1960 and 1989”, undertaken by a team of PhD students in art history, postdoctoral researchers in philosophy and research assistants, has investigated the question of real and reality with the aim of contributing to the question of artistic relations between countries on either side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
We began by analysing art reviews and artists’ writings, and then case studies that specifically discuss the understanding of the notion of real and reality in a given context and concrete examples of artistic relations between France, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Poland. We examined whether these dealings reflected the ideological rivalry of the period, or whether common aspects could occur despite the physical, geographical and political boundaries between the blocs. During our research, the notion of real was recognised as a useful tool for exploring the artistic relations between countries situated on either side of the Iron Curtain despite the geopolitical divisions and lack of movement of people, artworks and ideas between them at that time. This approach enabled distinctions and rapprochements to be made that challenged the conventionally accepted divisions of the period. The results of the project tend to reject the dualist and essentialist visions that set the Eastern bloc against its Western equivalent, and to encourage a new perception of the artistic relations in Europe during the Cold War and consideration of what the contemporary artistic practices reveal of the period.
In addition to the contributions to the analysis of artistic relations during the Cold War, the different perspectives of a European team on a shared notion offered food for thought on the challenges faced by the human and social sciences today in the context of research with global aspirations. In seeking to reflect the diversity of interpretations of a single notion, we came up against the need for the development in Europe of a set of shared references that link “the elements of the two cultural and social systems of the West and East to form a new unity” [Igor Zabel, “Haven’t We Had Enough?”, in Personal Cuts. Art à Zagreb de 1950 à nos jours, Branka Stipancic (ed.), Nîmes Carré d’art, musée d’art contemporain, 2014, pp. 57-67].We were thus made aware of questions raised by this long-term project and prompted to take stock of the fundamental change in relationship to knowledge formed by the recognition of the diversity of scientific cultures, their uniqueness, and their potential point of convergence.

Reported by

STIFTUNG DEUTSCHE GEISTESWISSENSCHAFTLICHE INSTITUTE IM AUSLAND - DGIA
Germany
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