The 7th edition of the Festival de l’histoire de l’art will take place from Friday, June 2nd to Sunday, June 4th, 2017, in the town of Fontainebleau, in the park, at the château and on several sites in and around the city.
The Festival is a three-day entirely free international event that provides a crossroads between the world of professional art history and the public. Organized in collaboration by the ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) and the Château de Fontainebleau, with the support of the ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, its goal is to reach the broadest audience possible and offer a fascinating visual and contextualized experience of art. The Festival addresses a wide array of visual arts: from ancient to contemporary, painting to photography, performance to decorative arts; it also considers architecture and digital arts. During the three days of the Festival, more than 350 conferences, debates, tours, concerts, exhibitions, films, lectures, and workshops are offered to the public – free of charge and without reservation.
The Festival invites 300 professionals of the art world (artists, professors, curators, art dealers, art publishers, students etc.) to present their expertise to a large audience in a scholarly yet passionate and accessible way. It goes beyond the usual academic borders, periods, and methods, providing an opportunity for the speakers to compare different practices in the domains of art history, heritage and culture. It also offers those professionals a chance to meet, discuss and interact together on a large scale. Every year, the Festival focuses on two main topics (a theme and a guest country). This year, the theme selected by the scientific committee is Nature and the country the United States of America. The program consists of events around its annual theme, Nature, and guest country, the United States, as well as a film festival (Art & Caméra), a book fair, international student sessions and workshops for secondary teachers called the Spring University. It also offers tours, concerts, theater, and family activities.
A theme: Nature
In 2017, the Festival focuses on the subject of Nature. Specialists will present their research, ranging from the relations mankind develops with his surroundings to representation of different natural worlds in art (fauna, flora, vegetation, sea life), the symbolism of nature, and the art of gardening to the question of ecology. We will consider the history of landscapes from their representation in ancient Greece to Land Art. The presence of gardens and forests around Fontainebleau will set the stage and allow a personal experience of this broad subject.
A guest country: the United States
The Festival has chosen to honor the United States as its guest country for the 2017 edition. Thanks to the financial help of the Getty, the Terra, and the Annenberg Foundations, the Festival invites American lecturers to present the state of the current research in art history in the United States as well as introduce American art to a French audience. Some of the lectures and panels will be held in English.
We will focus on the particularities of American art and American research themes: the political commitment of American artists, the identities of minorities and the question of safe zones, ancient Native American art, the link between American and French art and the rise and hegemony of American art in the second half of the twentieth century in relation to its European heritage. The Festival will also address the subjects of American photography, architecture and finally Land Art – a connection to the 2017 theme: Nature.
The Festival also offers recurrent main events:
Current Events Forum
What’s new in the Art world? The Forum de l’Actualité presents the latest news in the world of the arts. It opens the floor to topics that are under discussion at the time of the Festival, from new exhibitions to debates about the attribution of newly discovered masterpieces or the destruction of heritage in the Middle East.
International Students Sessions
They provide opportunities for the next generation of art historians in France, the USA and the EU to meet informally with established professionals and to share their research with the public. This initiative was started in 2012 and is financed in part by the Fondation Hippocrène. Approximately 60 Master and PhD students in art, art history, cinema history and restoration are guests of the Festival and are given a privileged access to the event. This year, a partnership with French Heritage Society and Annenberg Foundation will allow us to bring dedicated students in art history from all over the United States and to include them in these sessions. By inviting to Fontainebleau the experts they need to meet for their research, the Festival creates a precious moment of contact between two generations of scholars, but it also contributes to connect the future international community of art historians. Call for applications till March 15.
Art & Caméra
This film festival’s intent is to draw attention to cinema as an artistic medium. It features films on art that re-mediate art history and create a bridge between art historians and a broader audience. It also designs a program that highlights the Festival’s theme and the guest country. This year’s series will include a tribute to American art filmmakers.
Art & Caméra presents more than a hundred films in their original format, screens silent films accompanied by live musicians – an occasion for the Festival to commission a new composition, and to present two awards. The Prix Art & Caméra turns a project of a film on art into a finished work of art with the help of the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC), l’Académie de France à Rome-Villa Medici, Le Fresnoy-Studio national des arts contemporains and the patronage of Carlo Perrone. The second award, the Prix Jeune Critique, allows high school students to become jury members of a film festival and learn analysis techniques.
This year, the tribute to American art filmmakers will include a retrospective on the films on art by Frederick Wiseman (National gallery, La danse, ballet de l’opéra de Paris, La comédie française ou l’amour joué, Ballet). It will underline the lucidity with which this documentary filmmaker – one of the best of our time – describes the American system. We will invite Larry Keith, who is restorer at the National Gallery (London) and a protagonist of Wiseman’s film.
American filmmakers have a strong connection to nature. A lecture by Émilie Vergé will investigate how Stan Brakhage, American director of experimental films, has been using nature as the very material of his pictures, apposing tree leaves directly onto the film for instance. Documentary films on Land artists such as Robert Smithson and films with an interest for American iconic landscapes such as Terrence Malik’s Days of Heaven or John Ford’s Stagecoach will also be presented. Among the lectures proposed, Jean Mottet (emeritus professor EHESS) will analyze how painting and cinema have treated landscapes, while another will showcase the links between Edward Hopper and Alfred Hitchcock.
Art Book Fair
It allows roughly 80 publishers and book dealers specializing in art to display their publications. Signing sessions or lectures by the authors will take place during this most important meeting of the year for the profession in France. Around 25 lectures will be given by authors on their latest books.
The Friends of the Festival
A meeting place for students, associations and professionals of the art world is organized by the Amis du Festival de l’histoire de l’art (AFHI-art) in an informal environment. The Festival is particularly attentive to creating opportunities for the art history students. It offers them professionalizing workshops and a new award this year to help them synthetize their research presentation in 180 seconds (call for applications here).
Tours, shows and family activities
Activities are created for children and teenagers (with their schools or families) to introduce them to art through workshops, age-appropriate films, and visits. Countless events are offered: concerts, theater, tours in the château, the gardens and the town of Fontainebleau. Come and listen to the musicians of the Conservatoire de Parisor the actors of the Comédie Française. The students at École du Louvre will be at the ready in the castle, happy to share their knowledge on classical orders of architecture or the secret meaning of the Galerie François Ier, adapting their discourse to the degree of knowledge in art history of their audience.
Supported by the ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, it provides training in art history for high school teachers (sessions and workshops).