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The Postwar Moment: Historical Futures in Visual Culture

"The Post War Moment: Historical Futures in Visual Culture"

International Conference at the John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies, Freie  Universitaet Berlin in cooperation with the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Institute for  Cultural Diplomacy and the JFKI Alumni Association.

Organizers: Angela Miller & Frank Mehring

June 15, 2012

10 am – 7 pm, room 340


This conference will address the multiple political, intellectual, and aesthetic responses to the destruction of World War II in the post-war period. In these years, philosophers, artists, and    politicians reckoned with how subjectivity, human agency and the image of man might be reconstituted in the face of systematic mass murder, and the legacy left by the Third Reich. Also of great urgency was the future of democracy in an era when the concept would be used as a diplomatic tool that sometimes betrayed its own intentions and its wartime legacies of anti-fascism. Papers will consider the postwar interpretation of Nazi art and culture, the function of cultural diplomacy and mediated concepts of a “New Europe” in the Marshall Plan film program, the role of the arts in the US mission of German "re-education," theoretical discourses and artistic practices reckoning with the mixed legacy of existentialism, and the fate of 1930s cultural democratic programs in the post-war years.

Speakers include Ludger Derenthal (Kunstbibliothek Berlin), Sabine Eckmann (Washington University in St. Louis), Christian Fuhrmeister (Zentralinstitut fuer Kunstgeschichte, Munich), Maria Fritsche (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim), Keith Holz (Western Illinois University), Frank Mehring (John F. Kennedy-Institute, Freie Universitaet Berlin), Angela Miller (Washington University/Terra Guest Professor, Kennedy-Institute), and Jody Patterson (University College of London).


10:00 Introduction
          Angela Miller, Terra Visiting Professor, and Frank Mehring (JFKI)

Panel 1: The Post-war Reckoning with National Socialism in the US and Europe

10:30 Keith Holz (Western Illinois University)
          "Postwar Reckonings with Nazi Art in the Writings of Lincoln Kirstein, Helmut Lehmann-
          Haupt, and Hildegard Brenner"

          Christian Fuhrmeister (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, München),
          Art Historical Practice, 1943-1950: How American Art Historians Looked at German Art

          Sabine Eckmann (Washington University in St. Louis)
          "Embattled Selfhood: Theoretical  Discourses and Artistic Practice in Germany
          after 1945"

12:30-13:30 Lunch Break

Panel 2: Languages of Art in the Aftermath of World War II

13:30 Ludger Derenthal (Kunstbibliothek Berlin )
          "’Pundits of Fire and Public Madness:’ Visions of the End of Times in German Art after the
          Second World War”

          Jody Patterson (University College London).
          “’Operation Crossroads': Abstract Painting in the Atomic Age”

15:00-15:30 Coffee Break

Panel 3: Visual Archives, Re-Education, and the “New Europe” of the Marshall Plan

15:30 Frank Mehring (John F. Kennedy-Institute, Freie Universität Berlin)
         “Re-Education & Re-Democratization: Mapping the Digital Archive of Marshall Plan Films”

         Maria Fritsche (Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Trondheim)
         “European Integration: A Matter of Great Difficulty? How Marshall Plan Filmmakers
          Promoted a United Europe”

17:00 Keynote: Angela Miller (Washington University/Terra Guest Professor JFKI)
         “The Fate of the Gesture in the Post-War Era”

18:30 Reception at JFKI

19:30 Dinner at Italian Restaurant

22:00 End of Conference


The conference is generously supported by:

Photos of the event can be found here