Historical background PDF Print

The project’s historical and theoretical background

The museums consortium L’Internationale was founded in 2010 with the EU-funded European project 1957 – 1986 Art From the Decline of Modernism to the Rise of Globalisation. This project forms the foundation both in content and in organisation for this second step under the title The Uses of Art’. The initial network consisted of four participating museums that have since been joined by two new members from Spain and Turkey. The geographic spread of the partners makes the network truly European, combining East, West, North and South. The museums in the consortium are all dedicated to modern and contemporary art and all share the conviction that museums should collect and display art in relation to society and not as an isolated, autonomous entity. Art and culture are by nature public and the museums combined in the L’Internationale network take it as their mission to stimulate the public ‘use’ of art.


A European Art History - 1848 – 1989 - Today

When thinking of our recent past and that monumental date of 1989 we tend to read it against the backdrop of 1945 and the end of generalized conflict in most of Europe. The European Union itself is understood as ‘result’ of the dramatic catastrophe of the Second World War and as pressed into form through the ideological forces of the Cold War. (Recent) art history is also written along the lines of the trauma of Word War II, the divisions of the Cold War and the unification of Europe following the end of Communism in Eastern Europe around 1989..

For L’Internationale this story has run its course as mental backbone to the European Project. The tragedy of the holocaust must never be forgotten, nor the ideological struggle of the Cold War, but they must not be the negative foundation for our international solidarity. We need a new perspective on the past to open up different futures; a perspective that counters fragmentation and promotes access and use. The UoA therefore seeks to propose a new historical narrative by uniting the tools of our collective art collections, curatorial and writing knowledge and experience of public interpretation to read the long history of European civil society, tracing it back to the European civil revolutions of 1848 through 1989 and on to today.

This European art history follows out the previous EU funded project of L’Internationale 1957 – 1986 Art From the Decline of Modernism to the Rise of Globalisation (2010 – 2012). Here L’internationale has already started to analyse the relationship between art and society through the post-war production of art on both sides of the old East-West divide. This first collaboration allowed the majority of the core group to learn how to work together on a project basis and to exchange some experiences. With UoA, we will build our interconnections much further to forge a sustainable transnational network through a number of common research and publicly accessible projects.