Appel à contribution : Towards a Loser’s Art History: Artistic Failure in the Long Nineteenth Century (Chicago, CAA, 12-15 février 2014)

Towards a Loser’s Art History: Artistic Failure in the Long Nineteenth Century

College Art Association, 102nd Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 12-15, 2014

Deadline: May 6, 2013

The narrative of art history has always been construed as a sequence of successes. This is especially true for the history of nineteenth-century art. The century conceived of itself as a glorious time of breakthroughs and achievements, and the various stories of its art production quickly integrated this logic by making success the cornerstone of their constructions, no matter how divergent their agendas. Progressists histories of nineteenth-century art have thought of success in teleological terms of innovation and change, whilst revisionist accounts have justified their focus on academic or Salon art by referring to its popular, commercial or official success.

This session aims to reverse the rigid logic of success, and proposes that a study of artistic failure in the long nineteenth century can contribute in an equally significant way to our understanding of the epoch and its art. The panel invites papers addressing issues of failure, deficiency, and ill-luck. It especially discourages all proposals relating to Great Artists, Salon Heroes or Unrecognised Innovators, unless their stories can be told as stories of failure and lack of achievement.

Please send proposals (max. two double-spaced pages) for a paper for this session to Jan Dirk Baetens (, together with a completed session participation proposal form, a CV, and a letter (or email) expressing your interest. For more information, see or contact the session convenor.

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