Appel à communication : « The Persistence of Myth in Art Historical Discourses »

From antiquity to the present, seemingly intractable myths haunt the discipline of art history. The themes are many and varied – myths of origin and originality, myths of genius, myths of madness – yet  remarkable in their persistence, regardless of the evidence ranged  against them. Two disparate examples illustrate this point: the  endlessly (un)resolved mystery of the death of Tom Thompson, the avatar of Canadian modernism; and the infamously (un)severed member of Rudolf Schwarzkogler, the so-called van Gogh of Viennese Actionism. This panel seeks to engage with art historical myths and their obstinacy, and to  consider the function of myth within the discipline from a broadly critical perspective. Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz’s Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist : A Historical Experiment (1934) offers a touchstone for the examination of myth as a recurrent theme within the genre of artistic biography. We encourage papers that go beyond biography to explore the typologies of myths – for example, myths of origin, myths of national schools, myths of scandal, myths of influence and attribution, and myths of demise and death. We hope to prompt a conversation motivated by such questions as: What do myths allow us to imagine or explain that historical narratives do not ? How have art historians marshalled myths to serve ideological ends? How does an analysis of myth within art history illuminate the discipline’s tenets and practices? As scholars, how might we explain our enduring fascination with myth?


Benedict Fullalove
Alberta College of Art and Design

Susan Jarosi
University of Louisville


Please submit abstracts of 250 words directly by email to session chairs, and include the paper proposal submission form available at:

Universities Art Association of Canada 
Université Concordia / Concordia University

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