“Style and Meaning: Disciplinary Conversions in Estonian Art History” (EKA Research Grant, 2021–2022)

The purpose of the project is to concentrate on the critical concepts in Estonian art history, their role in the vocabulary and meaning making within the field over the course of the two last centuries. Our focus is on the concept of style that has not been analysed from a critical historiographical perspective in local research, and its ideological, period- or genre-specific etc. meanings. We assume that ʻstyle’, along with several other concepts, has been atemporal in a way – it has traveled from one discourse to another, but acquired different weight and position each time. How do concepts and discourses react to temporal changes: ideologies, politics, the developments in the international field of art history or its neighbouring disciplines? How has ʻstyle’ shaped the meaning and value of artworks? We will select and analyse texts, exhibitions and cases of heritage construction in which the creative ʻpower’ of concepts and discourses is most visible.

Principal investigator: Krista Kodres

Senior research staff: Tiina Abel, Kristina JõekaldaKädi Talvoja, Johannes Saar

Other research staff: Liisa-Helena Lumberg, Mari-Liis Krautmann (PhD students)

Duration: 2021–2022

Project type: EKA Research Grant, A6033UKK

Financed by the Estonian Academy of Arts

See in the Estonian Research Information System


The working rhythm of the project has been guided by reading seminars on conceptual history (Pernau, Koselleck, Jordheim, Lehmann, Richter), nationalism and peripheries (Nygård, Strang, Marjanen), style (Schapiro, Gombrich, Elsner, Hvattum), discourse analysis (Jørgensen, Phillips, Åhäll, Borg), meaning making (Gadamer, Bakhtin), glocalisation (Robertson, Roudometof, Piotrowski, Dovydaityte), and periodisation (Popescu, Rampley).

Team members have given many talks and published over 10 scholarly articles (see individual CVs in the Estonian Research Information System).

The team co-organised several research events. In April 2022 the Estonian Society of Art Historians and Curators conference was held, devoted to the centenary of the discipline, in Tallinn and Tartu. In May 2022 the panel series ʻCrossroads of Baltic Historical Research: Post-Soviet Transformations and the Real Challenge of Expanding the Field’ took place in the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) conference in Seattle. In November 2022 we organised a public seminar ʻOn the Discourse of Conceptual History’ by Dr. Eva Piirimäe (University of Tartu) in the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture.

A new collective MA course for spring term 2023, ʻEstonian Art History as Heritage: A Critical History’, grew out of the project.

We continue to conduct interviews with senior art historians in Estonia in order to give additional insight to the history of the discipline in the past decades.

We are also preparing a special issue on historiography and the concept of style, ed. Kädi Talvoja (Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi / Studies on Art and Architecture 2024).

On 3rd February 2023 we presented our project’s results in the research seminar series of the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture.

Reading seminar in Haapse, August 2022
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Posted by Kristina Jõekalda