An Abbey Between Two Worlds. San Nicolò in San Gemini and the Dislocation of Monumental Artworks in the first Half of the 20th Century

International Conference
San Gemini, Abbey of San Nicolò, June 8-9, 2018

Call for papers

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To mark the 50th anniversary of the Abbey’s restoration (1967-2017), the conference will address the phenomenon of legal exportation and reinstallation of monumental complexes and oversized artworks in the first half of the 20th century. The Abbey’s portal, which arrived in the United States in 1936 and stands today at the entrance of the medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, will serve as the starting point to examine the circumstances around the exportation of works from Italy until the Second World War.
The specific focus will be monumental complexes and large works – rather than easily movable objects – which have been legally exported in peacetime.
In addition to the case of San Gemini, the conference aims to promote an interdisciplinary dialogue on the significance of an artwork’s context and on the social, legal and intellectual connotations of its removal. Thus, we encourage proposals that consider more than one case in the broader context of the phenomenon.
The following themes are especially welcome:
- the fortune/misfortune of the original site as the context for a work’s conservation and interpretation;
- the installation of these monumental works within a museum context and their subsequent impact on the practices of collecting;
- the cultural substratum of these dislocations as it emerges in the response of intellectuals and scholars, and the historiographic consequences.
Finally, contributions on the 20th century restoration of the Abbey of San Nicolò that address the role of identity and mobility are welcome. These could include material analysis and critical studies of the portal, as well as the relation between the original artifact and its in situ replica. The hope is to reconnect the work and its original context, putting in dialogue the two worlds that today divide it.

About the conference

The conference is promoted by Massimo and Leda Violati with the Associazione Valorizzazione del Patrimonio Storico San Gemini Onlus, and supported by the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, with the cooperation of the Department of Medieval Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The organization will cover the costs of the stay in San Gemini.
The participation of young independent scholars is encouraged; two travel grants will be offered. Those wishing to apply for a travel grant must specify it at the conclusion of their proposal. The selection will be made by the curators of the event on the basis of the curricula of the candidates.
The proposals for papers should be no longer than a page and must be sent with a curriculum vitae before the 17th of December 2017 to the following email address: gangemi(at)biblhertz.it

Concept and organization: Francesco Gangemi, Bruno Toscano and Tanja Michalsky
Advisory board: Francesco Gangemi, Rome | Duccio K. Marignoli, Spoleto | Tanja Michalsky, Rome | Anita Moskowitz, New York | Enrica Neri Lusanna, Florence | Bruno Toscano, Spoleto

Image: the San Gemini Doorway at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York  Archivio Massimo Violati