Laura Karp: Transfers and Mobility: Foreign Artists in Buenos Aires (1900-1950)

Transfers and Mobility: Foreign Artists in Buenos Aires (1900-1950)

Grete Stern, María Elena Walsh, 1947, gelatin silver print, 245 x 205 mm., Buenos Aires, Museo de Bellas Artes.

At the first half of the twentieth century, Buenos Aires was a major urban center where hundreds of foreign artists settled, as they were looking for a better economic and socio-political environment. However, even if it has played a significant role in the transcultural and transregional exchanges that took place in the twentieth century, Buenos Aires has often been seen as peripheral in the historiography of modern art. By studying networks, practices, discourses, diffusion and reception of works made by exiled artists in Buenos Aires from 1900 to 1950, Laura Karp’s goal is to assess the concrete impact of foreign practices and discourses in the local artistic landscape, and the extent to which the work of foreign artists was determined by local aesthetics and taste. Thus, this project stresses the need for adopting an analytical lens to study the process of transfer linking Buenos Aires with other areas of the world, by breaking with ideas of innovative centers/imitative peripheries, and of North-South relations. The influx of foreign artists (mainly European) to Argentina is a phenomenon whose study can easily reverse the geopolitical hierarchy. Indeed, cities like Buenos Aires become hubs that attract international attention, both intra-continental and transatlantic, playing a key role in exchanges and interconnections in global modern art history. This research might reveal less typical patterns in regard to the migration of people, images and ideas, as well as different channels of artistic transfer. The aim here is to consider Buenos Aires within the international artistic and cultural scene.

Laura Karp has a PhD in Art History from the University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris). Her dissertation, “Beyond the Pyrenees: Catalan Artists in Paris at the beginning of the 20th Century”, was awarded the Prize of the Musée d’Orsay 2015 and will be published by Presses universitaires de Rennes in 2018. She has served as a Research assistant at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (Paris), where she co-organized symposiums, seminars and an exhibition. Since 2009, she has been teaching Art History at the University of Nantes, at the University of Reims and at the University of Tours. She is an Associate Researcher at the Laboratório de Estudos Interdisciplinares (Universidade de São Paulo) and at InTRu – Interactions, transferts et ruptures artistiques et culturels (Université de Tours), and at the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte (Paris). She belongs to MapModern, a research group from the Universitat Oberta de Barcelona and she has been admitted to the Postdoctoral Program of the Instituto de Investigación en Arte y Cultura Dr. Norberto Griffa (Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires) under the supervision of Professor Dr. Diana Wechsler. Currently she is a Research Associate/Postdoc in the ERC funded project “METROMOD – Relocating Modernism: Global Metropolises, Modern Art and Exile” at the Institute for Art History of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Munich), where she works under the supervision of Professor Dr. Burcu Dogramaci.


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