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A Brief Outline of the History of Exhibition Making

A Brief Outline of the History of Exhibition Making

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Published by Larisa Crunţeanu

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Larisa Crunţeanu on Sep 18, 2011
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exhibited in differentplaces, or they were copies,or indeed they were in thepossession of the respectiveruler only at a certainpoint in time. The guidingprinciples of the collection were size, the number offigures, and theme. "It wasnot until the eighteenthcentury,” Mai observes,“that nation, state, andhistory became equally validpoints of reference, notonly for contemporary artbut also for that of thepast and so the representa-tive discourse changed intoa public discourse."
Cartesian perspective ismostly associated with theabstract and detachedsubject of centralperspective, who observesmatters from a safedistance. The gaze from  within Teniers’s paintinggallery falls directly andauthoritatively upon theviewer. The geometry of themathematical certaintyafforded by centralperspective seems to beequated with the certaintyof an order established byGod. Inscribed in the'show'-room, moreover, arethe concepts and effects ofgender differences, whichsince the Renaissance hadbeen constructed upondistancing effects and uponthe male subject as thesubject of central
Dorothee RichterUsing various illustrations, this paper delineates thehistory of exhibition display and establishes connections within that history. It also provides a list of suggestedfurther reading. The outline begins at a point in history when art emancipated itself from being a cult object andbecame an exhibition object. Interpreting various depictionsof exhibitions, I raise questions about representation,specifically who or what is represented, and about thehuman subjects involved, specifically how these are ad-dressed as recipients or as depicted figures. How did suchaddress and depiction affect the formation of identities?Which kinds of being-in-the-world, arrangements of power,and gaze regimes are conveyed by these illustrations? Whichstatus do art objects have within the context of an entirestaging, and how does its arrangement predetermine meaning?
1 David Teniers the Younger,
Painting Gallery of Archduke Leopold William of Austria
The painting by Daniel Teniers does not depict a particularexhibition, but instead a fictitious and programmaticexhibition, or what Ekkehard Mai has called a "personalpantheon of painting."
Depictions of galleries from Francken to Teniers, Pannini and Robert exhibit an artcollection whose displaying was meant to demonstrate theconnection between power and spirit, in order to substan-tiate the claims of one’s own dynasty against the claimsto power asserted by an array of courts, states, churches,and countries. The paintings need not necessarily reflectactual collections, and those on display were probably
1See Ekkehard MAI,"Ausgestellt – Funktionen vonMuseen undAusstellungen im Vergleich." in:
 Kunst des Ausstellens, Beiträge,Statements, Diskussionen
, ed.Hubert Locher,Stuttgart:Schulte, 2002.2See also HubertLOCHER, "Die Kunstdes Ausstellens,Anmerkungen zueinem unübersichtlichenDiskurs," in:
 Kunst des Ausstellens, Beiträge,Statements, Diskussionen
, ed.Hubert Locher,Stuttgart:Schulte, 2002.
1 David Teniers the Younger,
Painting Gallery of Archduke LeopoldWilliam of Austria
, 106 x 129, 1653
Issue # 06/10 : 1,2,3, --- Thinking about exhibitions
Issue # 06/10 : 1,2,3, --- Thinking about exhibitions
Skandalöse Bilder.Skandalöse Körper. Abject Art vomSurrealismus biszu den CultureWars
. Berlin 2001,p. 119.4For a detaileddiscussion andextensivebibliography, seeSigrid SCHADE andSilke WENK,"Inszenierung desSehens, Kunst,Geschichte undGeschlechter-differenz," in:BUSSMANN, HOF:
Genus, zurGeschlechter-differenz in den Kulturwissen-schaften
,Stuttgart 1995,pp. 340-407.5Malcolm BAKER,(Deputy Head ofResearch at theVictoria & AlbertMuseum in London),in:
 Dumont,Geschichte der Kunst, (The Oxford History of Western Art)
, London 2000,Cologne 2003,pp. 288/2896BAKER, Ibid.,pp. 288/289.7LOCHERpp. 22/23.8OskarBÄTSCHMANN,
usstellungs-künstler, Kult und Karriere im modernen Kunstsystem
,Cologne 1997,p. 9.
public to the exhibitionevent."
The profane anddirect trading with artbecame increasinglyinvisible; competition amongartists, and the discourseon their works, now movedinto the foreground."
 Moreover, "this shiftoccurred in the second halfof the eighteenth century,especially in France andEngland. The exhibitionartist now became the new leading type of artist,taking the place of theemployed court artist; thesecond leading type who roseto the fore was the artist-as-entrepreneur who acceptedcommissions for differentclients or worked for themarket," as Oskar Bätsch-mann’s extensive historicalresearch has revealed.
4 Johann Zoffany,
Charles Towneley’s libaryin Park Street
In the eighteenth century,art was increasinglydepicted as a place oftasteful pleasure andcritical judgement. Beingable to speak appropriatelyabout art was regarded as anexpression of educatedbehaviour. The ability topass individual judgementand to behave accordinglyimputes a self-responsiblesubject, an ideologicalconstruction that assumedincreasing significance. ForImmanuel Kant, one of themost important Enlightenmentphilosophers, aestheticsassumed a prominent place:for instance, the currentSuhrkamp edition of hisperspective. 'Woman' became an object – of the male gaze – and she thus became readily available and her imagecommodified. The gaze is as a rule associated with themale (subject) and the viewed or displayed with the female(object). In structural terms, 'woman' bears withinherself the place viewed and taken aim at. AnjaZimmermann, for instance, identifies this structure whenshe summarises the insights that many contemporarycultural studies scholars have arrived at: "Both theposition 'within' the image and the position of whoever isgazing at the image are gender-specific positions. Not somuch by way of attribution to concrete subjects, but inrelation to the significance of this gaze regime for thedefinition of gender difference itself."
The eroticisingof the gaze, that is, the pleasure derived from looking,remains the unalterable prerequisite for addressingviewers: the sexually charged nature of the exhibitedresults from this particular structure.
2 Pierre Subleyras,
The Studio of the Painter
Subleyras’s representation of the painter’s studio leavesa striking impression of exhibiting what were still pre-modern values at the time. The atmosphere seems calm andinward, focused on the painter’s craft.Malcolm Baker has outlined how the places where art objects were traded were transformed over time: "The artist’s studioor workshop, as apparent in Subleyras’s painting [...] were a place where art was presented and where businesstransactions between artists and clients could be conduc-ted. But the commodification of art, which the growing artmarket indicated on the one hand, and the way in which arttook on a life of its own as a separate aesthetic categoryon the other, both led to the establishment of new spacesserving the viewing of images and sculptures by an increas-ing wider public."
The fine arts emancipated themselvesprogressively from their status as an artisanal, manualcraft, while their commodity character became nebulous.
3 Gabriel Jacques de St. Aubin,
The 1767 Salon
One such newly established space was the Salon de Paris(or simply the Salon), as shown in Aubin’s acquarelle. TheSalon was first held following a royal sanction. Variousgenres were exhibited alongside each other, includinghistory paintings, portraits, landscapes, portrait busts,and stucco models for large sculptures. Exhibits weredisplayed hierarchically, depending on size. Malcolm Bakerhas observed that "the exhibitions at the Salon werediscussed extensively in contemporary periodicals and artliterature, thereby attracting the attention of a wider
2 Pierre Subleyras,
The Studio of the Painter
, 125 x 99, after 17403 Gabriel Jacques de St. Aubin:
The 1767 Salon,
Aquarelle and Gouache, 17674 Johann Zoffany:
Charles Towneley’s Library in Park Street
, 127 x 99, 1783
Critique of Judgement, in which the first and secondversions of the text are reprinted, runs to 456 pages.Terry Eagleton has shown that Kant discusses aesthetics asan ideological function through which aesthetic judgementproduces individuality.
Jointly savoured judgement rendersaesthetics a utopian place, the only place where a senseof community can arise. Such thinking differs markedlyfrom the Middle Ages, where human beings occupied a fixed,unalterable position in a certain social strata, for in-stance a guild, family, or system of belief, and regardedthemselves as part of a group, from whose determinedpositions behaviour and moral stance largely resulted.The ideology of the autonomous subject coincided with thedevelopment of a mercantile class.Dating from 1883, Zoffany’s painting shows the Britishofficer and collector Charles Towneley (1737-1805)surrounded by sculptures or their casts amid a group ofmen engaged in discussion. The men are positioned ateye-level between the Greek sculptures. The casts ofancient sculptures refer to the democratic ideal ofancient Greece, as the pictorially represented historicallegitimation of democratic values claims.
 The first public exhibition for the 'common people' washeld at the Louvre in 1792, as a 'Museum of the FrenchRepublic.' Images, furniture, and art objects taken from the defeated aristocracy were placed on public display.Written into this spectacle were both the appropriationand affirmation of prevailing circumstances. Hubert Locherdescribes how exhibitions were increasingly regarded asnarratives or stagings, in which the meanings of single,autonomous works of art were placed within a overallcontext: "Shortly after 1800, Friedrich Schlegel, theGerman philosopher and theorist of art and literatureused the term 'exhibition' in the context of a museum presentation. While in Paris, he visited the Louvre to seedisplayed the works that Napoleon had looted, especiallyin Italy. Schlegel described his experience for Germanreaders interested in art in a journal that he edited.In the light of a series of the most important canonicalpaintings, he observed that each arrangement of a seriesof paintings in an exhibition presented the viewer witha new 'body,' and that such presentation entailed a new concept."
The rightful owner of the Louvre art collection was the Republic, that is tosay the nation, and no longeran individual ruler, around whose gesture of display artobjects had previously beengrouped. The context ofexhibitions therefore had tobe organised around another(imaginary) place ofrepresentation.
5 George Baxter,
Gems of the World Fair,(Belgian section)
During the nineteenthcentury, national galleryexhibitions and world fairs were held across Europe andin the United States. Worldfairs were still exhibitionsthat jointly displayed com-mercial products, technology,and art as expansive,large-scale internationalexhibitions: 1851 in London(Crystal Palace), 1855 Paris,1853 New York, 1854 Munich,1867, 1878, 1889 Paris, 1876Philadelphia, 1879 Sydney,1880 Melbourne, 1885 Amster-dam, and 1888 Brussels. From about 1850, museum associa-tions began establishingbourgeois museums.Sculptures on display at world fairs included itemsassembled from what we wouldtoday consider unusualcombinations of materials,for instance volcanised rub-ber or papier-mâché, sinceat the same time they rep-resented new technologies.The participating countries
9Terry EAGLETON, Ästhetik.
 Die Geschichte ihrerIdeologie
, Stuttgart,Weimar 1994.10BAKER, pp. 288/289.11LOCHER, p. 20.
5 George Baxter,
Gems of the World Fair, (Belgian section)
, wood engraving, coloured,12,1 x 24,1, 1854
Issue # 06/10 : 1,2,3, --- Thinking about exhibitions

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