History of Art



28 January 2020, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History

Event Information

Open to



Briony Fer


Seminar rooms 3 & 4
20, Gordon Square

As a collective research endeavour of twenty scholars of Central and East European art, Confrontations focuses on the contested art histories of the first and last decades of the socialist period across the diverse art scenes of the region. By staging encounters between contrasting aesthetic and critical positions, it engenders the crystallisation of more rigorous and integrated narratives of East European art history. Following sessions in Zagreb and Ljubljana, Prague and Bratislava, and ahead of meetings in Warsaw and Łódź, the presentation will report on the challenges of finding points of comparison around lesser known movements and periods in view of the dominance of scholarship on the Neo-avant-garde and the perils of constructing national accounts in an era of renewed political interference in the arts. Through its forthcoming seminar in Paris and London, Confrontations also probes East European art as constitutive of transnational British and global art history.    
Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians, co-founders of the Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art, co-directors of the Postsocialist Art Centre (PACT) at the Institute of Advanced Studies UCL and principle investigators of the Getty Foundation-supported program Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History. Their publications include Maja Fowkes’s The Green Bloc: Neo-avant-garde Art and Ecology under Socialism (2015), Reuben Fowkes’s special issue of Third Text on Actually Existing Artworlds of Socialism (2018) and their forthcoming Central and East European Art Since 1950 (World of Art series, Thames & Hudson, March 2020).

The Confrontations research group of twenty scholars of Central and East European art comes together for week-long meetings made up of collective seminars, guest lectures, studio and collection visits in cities across the region and beyond. By staging encounters between contrasting aesthetic and critical positions and creating conditions for comparative insights to crystallise, the Confrontations sessions aim to instigate more rigorous and integrated accounts of East European art history. Reflecting midway on the issues raised by their Getty Foundation supported initiative, Maja and Reuben Fowkes will explore the theoretical and practical challenges in reconsidering the art history of Central and Eastern Europe within a comparative and global perspective.