Issues of Art History Topography and Methodology

The objective of the VS centre for research in the field of art history is to elaborate a history of art in Moravia based on a modern conception, within the framework and from the point of view of the wider central region of Central Europe. To meet this objective, three principal areas need to be addressed: research into art history methodology, access to cultural and historical topographies and compilation of source databases and corpuses and, finally, publication of synthesizing monographs.

1) Research into classic art history methodology and methodological innovations in contemporary art history. One of the most exciting chapters in the contemporary humanities is the ongoing discussion on forms of discourse in art history. The relation between the centre and the periphery, regional aspects of artistic creation, the reception of works of art in the past and in the present, the relation between art history and general history, critical theory in contemporary art history and new initiatives in the field of methodology – all of these are hot topics of today. Research will be focused on sources of historical information – publication of classic art history sources in Moravia dating back to the period from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and on methodology – critical analysis of the historiography and methodology of art history as an artistic and aesthetic discipline. Research will be performed on an international level, in cooperation with peer research centres in Great Britain, Slovakia and Italy.

2) Topography, collections and digitalisation of sources and cultural heritage in Moravia, covering a wide area of art history. The core activity in this field is making works of art in Moravia known and available to the public. The pilot projects designed for the above purpose pursue the following objectives: (a) to create digital archives of architectural designs and of works of art, utilizing the experience of and in cooperation with Biblioteca Hertziana, Rome (unlike other, standard types of documentation in this case, architectural design plans are not regarded as graphic representations of specific structures but, primarily, as independent works of art); (b) to cooperate with the Czech Academy of Sciences on a corpus of baroque murals in Moravia (compiling input data); (c) to start work on cultural and historical topographies of selected urban complexes, monasteries, chateaux and towns (including resources and methodological approaches available for interpretation). The above projects will become part of a wider range of “research information sources” currently being made available at Masaryk University, Brno. The objectives of the research project include the promotion of these information sources through traditional and modern media.

3) Partial monographs on art history in Moravia in a medieval and an international context. Primary research using corpuses and topographies cannot be a goal in itself, but rather a logical part of the future reassessment of existing conceptions of the history of art in central Europe. The reassessment will consist primarily consist of the application of new methodological approaches to the study of specific works of art and of cultural and historical trends in Central Europe. In this sense, its most significant topics include the history of collection-building and of art history collections in central Europe, the relation between art and nature in landscape gardening and projects of urban architecture, and the elaboration of approaches to art history based on new investigation and specialist methodology. The monographs to be published in the framework of the project will gather results in a given field obtained by a team work of historians, archaeologists and art historians, with significant input from a younger generation of research workers.