Accepted Paper:

"Thick description": an interdisciplinary outlook in contemporary art history  

Author:

Juliana Robles de la Pava (Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero/Universidad de Buenos Aires)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to give an account of the relations between contemporary art history and the idea of an interpretative science in search of meaning. For that, we shall conceive the historian of contemporary art as an ethnographer with a microscopic gaze towards the wefts of meaning.

Paper long abstract:

One of the definitions which guide the history of art as a discipline is that its object lies in determining the motivations of transformation in the aesthetic forms, however, this nineteenth-century perspective has resulted in various approaches within recent art history. These approximations come in relation to Visual Culture and its interest in unraveling structures of significance through broader methodologies. This is the case of the sociology of art, the anthropology of art, the gender studies, among others. The relations between anthropology and art history have been diverse especially in the use of broad notions like those of symbolic thought that have been worked by authors such as Aby Warburg and Erwin Panofsky. Contemporary art history has taken various categories that are typical of the anthropological analysis like those of otherness and culture. But the essential definition of a discipline is found more in their methods than in their concepts, particularly in anthropology the method is found in the ethnographic labor.

This paper seeks to give an account of the relations between contemporary art history and the idea of an interpretative science in search of meaning. For that, we will take the concept of thick description point out by Clifford Geertz in order to sort out the structures of signification and determine their social and historic ground in shaping a contemporary art history. In this way, we will propose the idea of the historian of contemporary art as an ethnographer with a microscopic gaze towards the wefts of meaning.

Panel P069
Confluences of Art History and Anthropology