SymposiumGroup Dynamics

Collectives of the Modernist Period

Présence plastique, Jemaa El-Fna Square Manifesto exhibition, (including Ataallah, Belkahia, Hafid, Hamidi, Chabaa, Melehi), Marrakech, May 1969, Toni Maraini Archives
Présence plastique, Jemaa El-Fna Square Manifesto exhibition, (including Ataallah, Belkahia, Hafid, Hamidi, Chabaa, Melehi), Marrakech, May 1969, Toni Maraini Archives
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The international symposium "Group Dynamics—Collectives of the Modernist Period" offers the opportunity to exchange ideas with renowned experts and prepares the ground for an exhibition and an accompanying publication of the same title scheduled for 2021. It is designed to appeal both to an academic audience and to the interested public.

The symposium's purpose is to share recent research about widely diverse "collectives of the modernist period" and the ways in which entrenched narrative patterns and modes of presentation inform the work of art historians and curators. We would like to broaden and deepen our knowledge about collectives and engage the invited speakers in conversation to learn more about artists, movements, and discourses whose significance has long been undisputed among scholars specializing in particular areas of art history yet which remain largely obscure to broader audiences. The lectures accordingly turn the spotlight on selected exemplary artists' groups worldwide. The speakers will examine the collectives' particular motivations, their specific modes of practice and forms of expression, the historical and political contexts in which they emerged, and the influence these groups and movements exerted on the subsequent evolution of the art of their time and place. We hope that the symposium will help initiate seminal discussions about the dynamic processes within groups and collective practices and so also prompt a critical revision of established categories such as authorship, autonomy, and canonical aesthetics.

With contributions by: Samina Iqbal & Zehra Jumabhoy, Carol Yinghua Lu, Morad Montazami, Harper Montgomery, Noriko Murai, Lena Naumann, Teresa Riccardi, Nada Shabout, Aihe Wang

The symposium was originally scheduled to take place at the Lenbachhaus on April 23–25, 2020. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we had to move it to the digital realm at short notice. We would like to thank all invited speakers for their willingness to participate in the symposium in this new format and brave the various technical challenges and limitations it has entailed. We are enormously pleased and grateful for their diverse contributions, which are of great value for our own research. Still, we should not trivialize the negative impact on our work of the fact that we were unable to convene the symposium at the museum. The exchange of ideas in the personal encounter between all contributors and with the active participation of our visitors as well as the workshops we had originally envisioned did not take place. We hope to make up for the partial cancellation and are working on new event formats that will allow for a sustained close and personal engagement between the speakers, the museum’s audience, and us in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition in the fall of 2021.

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Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Logo: Kulturstiftung des Bundes


Welcome & Introduction to the Symposium "Group Dynamics—Collectives of the Modernist Period"

The project "Group dynamics—collectives of modernity" not only deals with groups of artists, but is developed collectively at the Lenbachhaus, too. The project team welcomes you in this video and introduces the topics of the symposium.
Samina Iqbal & Zehra Jumabhoy – Parallels and Paradoxes: Modern Art for New Nations

In their joint talk, Samina Iqbal and Zehra Jumabhoy speak about "Parallels and Paradoxes" when comparing the activities of the Progressive Artists' Group and the Lahore Art Circle in post-partition India and Pakistan in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Carol Yinghua Lu – New Measurement Group (1988–1996). An Allegorical Pursuit of Rationalism

Speaking about "New Measurement", a Beijing-based artist group active in the late 1980s and 1990s, Carol Yingua Lu discusses the group's localization in an emerging conceptual art scene in China and the artists' lasting impact on it.

Morad Montazami – The Casablanca Art School: platforms and patterns of the postcolonial avant-garde

Morad Montazami is presenting the collective activities of the artists (and writers) leading the Casablanca Art School and their localization in post-Independence Morrocco's artistic scene and a local as well as trans-national avant-garde.

Harper Montgomery – Artworks Becoming Meaningful on the Network

Harper Montgomery concentrates on the "mobility" of collective artistic movements within a South-South network between Buenos Aires, Mexcio City, Havana, and Lima in the 1920s.

Noriko Murai – Composing in Groups

Noriko Murai examines various artists‘s groups and circles in early-twentieth-century Japan. She proposes to shift the focus to questions of group formation and collective processes to thus enable new interpretations of transnational coordinates, developments of artistic trends and their adaptation.

Lena Naumann – Of Devil Dogs and Flying Tortoises: Oshogbo's artistic movements in the 1960s

Lena Naumann introduces two collective forms of artistic production in Oshogbo in the 1950s and 1960s, who are considered as well-established within the discourses on Modernity in Nigeria.

Teresa Riccardi – Crisis and the Performative Condition

Teresa Riccardi comparatively links the strategies of collective artistic practices and performative responses in times of crisis, forging a bridge between Argentina's artistic and literary scenes within their political circumstances in the 1920s, 2001, and today.

Nada Shabout – "A New School of Painting:" The Baghdad Group for Modern Art

Nada Shabout introduces "A New School of Painting", focusing on the Baghdad Group of Modern Art, formed in 1951, and its central role in the invention of a specific modern visual identity in Iraq.

Aihe Wang – Other Modernism and Other Collectives: Underground Art During Mao's Cultural Revolution

Aihe Wang, who herself was part of "Wuming", aka "No Name", a painting group active in China in the 1970s, offers insights into "Other Modernism and Other Collectives", examining underground collectives during China's Cultural Revolution.

In the context of the exhibition