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Nordic Art. The Modern Breakthrough.

Professor David Jackson, Hannah Heilmann, Jan Cox

This three-year research project (2010-2013), funded by the AHRC, culminated in December 2012 and through the summer of 2013 in an exhibition and accompanying catalogue/book at two prestigious venues: the Groninger Museum, Netherlands, 9 December 2012 to 5 May 2013 and the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich, 30 May to 6 October 2013. Visitor figures were impressive for both exhibitions: 120,000 in the Netherlands and 95,000 in Munich.

Its principal research imperative has been to critically analyse Nordic art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period of seminal importance in Scandinavia, utilising contributions from experts in each of the Nordic nations. It investigates a series of research questions related to the cultural context of the production, display, consumption and aesthetics of Nordic art during this period, particularly relating to issues of national identity, internationalism and aesthetic experimentation. In particular it addresses the question as to in what sense Nordic art can be regarded as a homogenous cultural entity with shared characteristics and objectives, and if so, what distinguishes this and how is this manifested in the visual arts?

The research and exhibition engages also in asking if Nordic art of this period can be approached from a perspective of internationalism rather than a nationally-based methodological approach, and if so, how is Nordic art sited within larger debates on painterly aesthetics and technical experimentation within an European context.

The accompanying book to this research project, Nordic Art. The Modern Breakthrough 1860-1920 (catalogue editor: Professor David Jackson) is available here. The book was recently named one of the year's essential art books by Brian Sewell in the London Evening Standard.

Other events linked to Nordic Art. The Modern Breakthrough. included:

31 October to 1 November 2013
The final project event, a symposium on artists, institutions and artist’s institutions during the Modern Breakthrough and today, took place at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Cpenhagen. Making Room aimed to investigate, portray and discuss the relation between contemporary artist-run spaces and the early artist associations and institutions of the Modern Breakthrough in the Nordic countries. See here for more information about the symposium.

13 December 2013
David Jackson was keynote speaker at After the Party. New research on Munch and his Nordic Contemporaries, at  The Annual Research Day for Art History at the University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, Oslo University.  HIs paper was entitled ‘Stranger in a Strange Land. The Challenges of Intercultural Communication’. Jan Cox, project PhD, also presented a paper entitled ‘Erik Werenskiold: A Peasant Burial’.

8 January 2014
David Jackson was a speaker at Nordic Cosmopolitans, a conference at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark, with project PhD Jan Cox and Post Doctoral Research Assistant, Hannah Heilmann.