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Iris Wien


"My project promises to develop a critical review of one of the most influential art historical narratives: the understanding of the historical development of abstract art as a process of desemantisation. This is of utmost interest far beyond the field of British Art History."

Scientific Career

After studies in Architecture and Urban Planning at the Technical University Stuttgart Iris studied Art History, Philosophy and Sociology in Bonn, Bochum and Berlin. She received her PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin with a dissertation entitled Joshua Reynolds: Mythos und Metapher (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2009). She was predoctoral fellow of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. Her work was also supported by research grants from the Freie Universität Berlin and the DAAD Bonn. From 2006 to 2012, she held a position as Academic Assistant at the Art Historical Department of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt. From 2012 to 2014 she was the Marie Curie Fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation at the Courtauld Institute, London. In July and August 2014 she was a visiting scholar at the Yale Center for British Art. She has published on British art of the eighteenth and nineteenth century as well as on contemporary art and photography.

IPODI Research Project

The Elements of Drawing: reflections on the status of graphic marks in visual theory and practice in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain

Duration: 1 October 2014 – 30 September 2016

Mentor: Prof. Dr. Magdalena Bushart, Faculty I, Institut für Kunstwissenschaften und Historische Urbanistik

Abstract: The intended study strives – from a historicizing perspective – to reconstruct the status of a phenomenon that can be referred to as “graphic marks”. Discourse on such phenomena burgeoned in the late eighteenth- and during the nineteenth-centuries especially in Britain. The proposed research will investigate deliberations and thoughts on the “smallest unit” of drawings, water colors, or prints in relation to the practice, theory, and criticism of the graphic arts. By inquiring into the referentiality of graphic marks, how they were conceptualized in art criticism and in contemporary manuals on drawing or printing techniques but also in the art works themselves, the proposed research will investigate and clarify general problems inherent in the constitution of pictorial meaning. It appears that the issue of the construction of meaning with regard to the artifice of the art of drawing and painting was much discussed by artists and in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British art literature. The reconstruction of this discourse and the analysis of its historical contexts promise a critical revision of one of the most influential paradigms of reflection on modern art: John Ruskin’s demand for “the innocence of the eye,” which played a key role in determining the art-historical construction of the genealogy of modernity.




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