Mary Seeger O’Boyle Postdoctoral Fellow, 2022-2023 to 2023-2024
- DegreePh.D., Art History, School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), 2021DissertationBeyond the ‘classical’: Art and Archaeology in Cahiers d’art and in The Writings of Christian Zervos (1926-1969)Research ProjectContinuity, Survival, Regression: The Temporalization of Antiquity in the Work of Christian Zervos (1926-1969)
Eleni Stavroulaki is an art historian whose research focus on the reception of ancient art during the interwar period, when antiquity and modern art came into close alignment; more specifically, she is interested in how this alignment is mirrored in art journals, which sometimes embrace an anti-classical and anti-humanist stance, while other times embrace a conservative or reactionary agenda. In the 1930s French political setting, characterized by great tensions and polarization surrounding foreign conflicts and the confirmation of authoritarian governments, topics related to a purported "renaissance of European culture" include a wide range of perspectives that are tied to Antiquity in some manner. Her articles in peer reviewed journals reflect similar topics. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. She has an M.A. in Art History (Paris 1-Sorbonne University) and a B.A. in archaeology from the University of Athens. Her archival research was supported by the French School in Athens and the EHESS Endowment Fund, allowing her to write with primary material from the foreign archaeological schools in Athens, as well as archival holdings from the Centre Pompidou, the INHA, and the Institute for Contemporary Publishing Archives. She has participated in the research program on Cahiers d’art, carried out by the Benaki Museum, the EfA and the Zervos Museum at Vézelay.
About the Research Project
Continuity, Survival, Regression: The Temporalization of Antiquity in the Work of Christian Zervos (1926-1969)
Cahiers d’art (1926-1969), the magazine and publishing house of the Greek born editor Christian Zervos, was characterized by its defense of post-Cubist artists and an indefatigable publication of pre- and protohistoric arts of the Mediterranean. Within this context, scholarly work emphasized the anticlassical weight of the journal. This project aims to relativise this approach, demonstrating that Zervos’ account of pre- and proto-historic art is not based on the idea of an evolutionary rupture and of an univocal anti-classical posture, but rather on that of continuity between the classical and deep past. The first issue this project addresses is the distinction between “primitivism” and archaic/prehistoric temporalities. These two regressive tendencies have intersected and forged links of analogy and reciprocity, yet they did have quite different ideological and artistic vocations. In the context of historical avant-gardes, the obsession with ethnological art had an undeniable primacy; nonetheless, its creative weariness throughout the 1930s promoted the redirection towards historically remote arts, from archaic to prehistoric ages. The political applications that this temporal gap provided could not be met by an African-specific cultural output that remained related to ideas excessively hierarchical for many Cahiers d'art collaborators. Furthermore, this project analyzes Zervos' acquaintance with the origin narratives that shaped Greek archaeology. Finally, it focuses on the formal examination of Zervos' photography techniques used to create artifact photos that represent his ideological and aesthetic program. This project, which aims to enlarge my PhD thesis, is largely based on archival material held in a variety of institutions that are linked to Cahiers d’art.