The Visible and the Speakable

The Visible and the Speakable. The Languages of Art History

Pictures, sculptures, architectural structures, objects of craftmanship: works are at the core of research in art history. But they are nevertheless inseparable from the verbal dimension: “Nous ne voyons jamais les tableaux seuls, notre vision n’est jamais pure vision. Nous entendons parler des œuvres, nous lisons de la critique d’art, notre regard est tout entouré, tout préparé par un halo de commentaires” (“We never see the pictures alone, our vision is never pure vision. We hear about works, we read art criticism, our gaze is entirely surrounded, entirely prepared by a halo of commentary,” Michel Butor). Thus, while the relationship to language is consubstantial with the research process in art history, its influence and importance are comparatively the subject of little analysis. Taking this observation as a starting point, the 2022-2023 annual theme draws attention to the specific functions of discourse in representing, communicating, and highlighting the aesthetic and historical properties of works of art. This is not a matter of initiating a new paragone but rather of considering image and text, contemplation and description in their interdependence and their reciprocal references. In addition to the scientific language of art history, that of art criticism as well as the tradition of artistic commentary in literature must be integrated into the reflection. This call for applications purposefully takes a very open historical perspective: we welcome contributions ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. In terms of content and methodology, project descriptions should fit into one of the following thematic fields: the history and theory of ekphrasis; text-image interaction in museums; the limits of description and forms of the untranslatable; scientific language and jargon; rhetoric and the performative dimension of speech in art history; the functions and importance of programming languages in the history of digital art; old and new forms of publication.

In the context of this new annual theme, the DFK Paris will grant several 12-month research fellowships, with a start date of October 1, 2022. The application is open to doctoral students and postdocs in the history of art or a related discipline, whose work engages the theme described. To apply, please submit the usual documents (CV; letters of recommendation, including from research supervisors; transcripts; language certificates; and publication list if applicable) as well as a description of the project (3 pages maximum, supplemented by a research schedule and bibliography). These materials must be sent in a single PDF file to by March 31, 2022 (answers will be given in May 2022).

Direction: Peter Geimer and Georges Didi-Huberman
Coordination: Marie-Madeleine Ozdoba

Dr. Marie-Madeleine Ozdoba

Dr. Marie-Madeleine Ozdoba

researcher and scientific coordinator
Phone +33 (0)1 42 60 40 34