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The second day of the coupDefouet International Congress was actually the day I was most looking forward to. Why? Well, because Debora Silverman would be delivering the Keynote Speech. And… because I would be giving my own presentation as well. Isn’t that exciting?!? I got to talk at Gaudí’s Casa Milà in Barcelona! At the biggest Art Nouveau congress in the World! Right after Debora Silverman. It doesn’t get any better than that!

III coupDefouet International Congress 2018 – Day 2

Strand 2 Art Nouveau and Politics in the Dawn of Globalisation

The relationship between art in general and politics has been well established in modern historiography, and interpreted by diverse theories and outlooks. The peculiarities of the times in which Art Nouveau was born and flourished, roughly from the 1890’s to 1914, calls for a specific look on this relationship. Industrialisation, improved communications and technological advances in general transformed the economic, social and cultural context. With this, political ambitions and developments also evolved, characterised by the apparition of new social and revolutionary movements and a renewed upsurge of nationalism and colonialism. Papers analysing the relationship of Art Nouveau works and artists with politics, and in particular with colonialism, are welcomed to this strand.

Author Title
Welcome by Marga Viza Boltas, Director for Culture of the Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera Casa Milà-La Pedrera
strand 2 Art Nouveau and Politics in the Dawn of Globalisation
Keynote Speech by Debora Silverman Art Nouveau and Politics at the Peak of European Imperialism: Horta, Van de Velde, Klimt and Modernist Congo Style
Olga Harmsen (me!) Batik – How Emancipation of Dutch Housewives in the Dutch East Indies and “Back Home” Influenced Art Nouveau Design in Europe
1st Coffee Break
Frédérique Hauffmann A Stock Exchange and a Political Manifesto: the Ambiguity of the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam (1898-1903)
Pekka Korvenmaa Architecture, Regionalism, Politics: Finland at the Dawn of the 20th Century
Martina Malesic Coffeehouses in Ljubljana Around 1900 as a Site of National Identification
Rita Nobre Peralta Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, a Portuguese Art Nouveau Artist
Crisitina Rodrígues-Samaniego & Natàlia Esquinas Giménez Art and Politics in 1900 Catalan Sculpture in Latin America
Ruth Sacks Style Congo in the Congo: Tracing Art Nouveau in Mbanza-Ngungu
Svetlana Shiells Japonisme in Vienna: Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Sonja Knips and Itō Jakuchū’s print Golden Pheasant and Bamboo in Snow
Jos Vandenbreeden Art Nouveau and Socialism, the Heritage of the Société Coopérative Ouvrière de Bruxelles, La Maison du Peuple
Ottobrina Voccoli Commerce and Colonial Politics and Liberty in Genoa Between the end of the 19th Century and WWI

During the first coffee-break, everyone was súper excited about what had just happened. I could almost taste the exuberance in the room!

Debora’s keynote speech had been captivating and full of fascinating eye openers. Of course she is an experienced speaker, but her story was extremely interesting too. Debora revealed new insights in the relationships between certain important people in Belgium and explained how these relationships ‘worked’ for them. Also, it was fascinating to hear about the symbolic meaning behind used materials and shapes. Her view on the Belgian colonial expansion was at least thought-provoking and participants talked about it for days. I, for sure, will never forget her speech; it has changed my view on Horta, Van de Velde – and Belgian Art Nouveau in general – forever.

And then it was my turn… I was well prepared and not nervous. My only worry was time. We all got 18 minutes to present our paper, and I had cut and shaved my presentation untill it would fit in 18 minutes. “So, stick to your text; don’t dwell or wander off… and everything will be alright”, I told myself.

Well, I did manage to finish my presentation in 18 minutes and according to the reactions I got over coffee, I did good. I was especially flattered because both Debora Silverman and Paul Greenhalgh (the keynote speaker for the following day) were enthusiastic about my presentation. The organisers of the congress even asked if they could publish my paper in their beautiful Coup de Fouet Magazine. Of course I will do everything in my power to help get my story – about how Dutch women both in the East Indies and in The Netherlands influenced European Art Nouveau – published!

World Exhibition in Paris 1900 and Dutch Batik

After the coffee break I could relax and fully enjoy all the other presentations. Most interesting to me personally were the ones by Frédérique, Pekka, Martina and Jos. Frédérique explained Berlage’s ideas behind his Stock Exchange ‘Beurs van Berlage‘ in Amsterdam. Pekka talked about Finnish architecture (I love Finnish architecture!), Martina told us about the coffee Houses in Ljubljana (and showed us beautiful pictures of their interiors) and Jos had an interesting story about Art Nouveau and Socialism and the beautiful, but nonetheless demolished Maison du Peuple in Brussels. These were all presentations I could relate to as I have visited those places and I have read about those subjects. I can’t wait to get the complete set of papers of the congress so I can read all stories in full.

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In the afternoon, we continued with the submitted research papers…

Strand 4: Research and Doctoral Thesis in Progress

The selection of papers within this strand will favour presentations by researchers and research groups whose ongoing projects may stimulate a discussion in which both young postgraduate students who are working on their doctoral theses and more experienced researchers in the field of Art Nouveau can share their analyses and opinions.

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According to Mario Baeck, it was William Morris who said that “Pottery is the most important of the ‘lesser’ arts” when he wrote down some rules for pottery. Rules that described features which would give pottery a boost at the end of the 19th century. Mario showed us lots of beautiful examples of Art Nouveau pottery and of luscious tile panels; many that can still be admired today in the streets of Belgium. His presentation was a feast for the eyes.

If you want to read about the previous Art Nouveau Congress, click here.

Read More:
III coupDefouet International Congress official website
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