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On 24th March 2021 at 11:00, via Zoom.

Zoom Seminar

The Visual and Material History Working Group is happy to invite you to its next session, which will take place on the 24th March at 11:00 on Zoom. For the eight session of the “Talking about things” seminar series, we will explore the act of collecting art – in its various forms – in the past. From simple hobby to a dynamic market, past collections of art works shaped the ones we have in nowadays public and private institutions. We will consider how and why collections came together and circulated, analysing the visual and material evidence available to researchers, historians and art historians alike. This interdisciplinary event will host two presentations, followed by questions and a discussion.

“Demidoff malachite collection: reconstruction of the dispersed ensembles” – Ludmila Budrina, Associate Professor of Modern Art History, Ural Federal University/Deputy director for cultural projects in the Shmotev Family Foundation.

The paper will explore two cases from the 12 years of research directed to the discovering of the pieces from the former collection of the Florentine villa San Donato, the main residence of the Russian aristocrats Demidoff in the 1830s-1870s. The members of this family, monopolist of the malachite in the world stone market, applied a lot of efforts to promote the green stone. The first case will be organized around the ensemble of the Sala degli Arazzi – one of the main salons, also called “the kingdom of the malachite”. The second one is based on the research of the pieces from the exhibition collection of the first World Exhibition in London in 1851. Both cases are (more or less) successful examples of how the combination of archive documents, period newspapers and visual sources may help in the research.


“The Surrealists’ private collections and the art market. A methodology for the study of the material circulation of artworks” – Alice Ensabella, Lecturer, Université Grenoble Alpes/Associate researcher, LARHRA.

How does an avant-garde promote itself on the art market? How does a movement such as Surrealism – known for its anti-capitalistic position – deal with economic and financial questions concerning collecting, buying and selling artworks? Strengthened by its independent, avant-garde position, Surrealists imposed themselves autonomously on the art market. Beyond a promotional model specific to the movement, Surrealists were able to enter the official market institutions and exploit their skills dynamically (private collections, galleries, auction houses). Creating a fertile network of collectors, dealers, art critics and auctioneers, Breton, Aragon, Éluard and the others manage to introduce Early Surrealist artists in the flourishing Parisian art market of the 1920s without the help of a dealer. This paper aims to describe the way Surrealists increased the circulation of their artworks and the methodology and sources used to retrace this unknown history of Surrealist art.


The event will be held via Zoom on 24th March at 11:00. To register, please contact Moïra Dato ([email protected]).