Call for Papers: Painted Ceilings in Europe (XIVth - XXIth centuries): forms, functions, fictions

Bewerbungsschluss: 30. Mai 2021

Painted Ceilings in Europe (XIVth - XXIth centuries): forms, functions, fictions

Organized by German Center for Art History-DFK (Paris), Ludwig Maximilian Universität (Munich) and Université de Bourgogne (LIR3S, CNRS, UMR 7366) International Conference, Paris, DFK, December 2-3, 2021

Emerging in the Middle Ages and then becoming in the Early Modern period one of the most important spaces for the development of painting, interior decoration, and representations of power, painted ceilings have represented prestigious artworks to this day, implementing its own poetics and symbolism.
From the beams of medieval castles to the ceilings of town halls, through the vaults of Baroque galleries and the domes of churches and theaters, ceiling painting constitutes a parallel history to that of the easel painting. Although the period from the 16th to the 19th century represents a privileged moment of the painted ceiling, its origins in medieval times (Bourrin, Bernardi, 2009; Fern, 2016) and its more recent developments (Bianchi, 2016) deserve to be also considered, due to various identical problematics.
This critical object of art history has experienced a recent resurgence of interest from researchers in both the medieval and modern and contemporary periods, as evidenced by the creation of an international association for research on medieval framework structures and painted ceilings (RCPPM), investigations outreach to sites outside Europe (Raggi, 2017 ; Bailey, 2018), and the ceiling commission from Cy Twombly for the Louvre in 2010. While the research field has been consequently broadened geographically and chronologically, it has also included new problematics, beyond the representation of power (Milovanovic, 2005). The current survey takes more into consideration the site’s specificity through the eye of a mobile spectator (Alpers, Baxandall, 1994); illusionism beyond classical and baroque, as an effective rhetoric (Scott, 1991); and the issue of propaganda and artistic identity (Oy-Marra, 2016). Recent research has favored monographic approaches in the different countries of Europe (see selective bibliography): it is now relevant to situate these studies within a European horizon.
This conference will examine both case studies and general reflections, taking advantage of recent research contributions from a cross-history perspective. Four lines of thought (which may be intertwined in the papers) are envisioned:

  1. Challenges of the painted ceiling: what to expect from a painted ceiling?
  2. Powers of the image: how does a large décor work?
  3. Decoration temporalities: appropriations, retrospective views, re-uses and misappropriations, historiographies.
  4. Digital and research: contributions of new visualization and reconstruction techniques.

To submit a paper (which will be limited to 20 minutes), please send an abstract no more than 500-word long in English, French, German, or Italian, along with a short 100-word biography, before May 30, 2021, to The conference will be held in Paris, with the presence of the participants, or as a virtual event, pending future sanitary measures. It is planned to allow much time to discussions and to organize sites’ visits.

Organizing Committee: Olivier Bonfait (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, LIR3S), Matteo Burioni (Corpus « Deckenmalerei », Ludwig Maximilian Universität, Munich), Bénédicte Gady (musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris), Thomas Kirchner (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte-Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art, Paris), Matthieu Lett (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, LIR3S).

Version française de l'appel à communications