Event | Symposium

Van Gogh – Pre Pop


Fri 17 Mar – Sat 18 Mar 2017

“Pop” stands for a variety of things, but above all for the “culture of the many”. In this symposium under the title “Van Gogh – Pre Pop”, the immense popularity of Vincent van Gogh forms the starting point for a discussion of how mass culture entered into his art in the past and continues to infiltrate it today. On the premise that the popular culture of today is part of a development whose genesis lies in the second half of the 19th century, looking at Van Gogh offers a unique opportunity to examine how a knowledgeable artist with a lively mind engaged with the products of new imaging technologies and with their pictorial worlds. This is the period when prints are proliferating – as albums, wall décor and magazine illustrations, sometimes with a socially progressive thrust. Vincent is both an avid collector and a discerning commentator of this popular visual material, of which he undoubtedly allows important aspects to flow into his work both at the level of form and content – even as his art becomes avant-garde in its orientation. The result, rooted in humanism but still explosive even today, is a synthesis of high and low. Thomas Hirschhorn sums it up in the formula “Van Gogh = l’art pour le public non-exclusif”.

While museums, too, have today become part of mass culture, the symposium “Van Gogh – Pre Pop”, animated by the powerful sociocultural charge of the term “Pop”, aims to discuss current issues that, to date, have been omitted from an art history focused on the history of style and form.

This symposium is the second of a trilogy, of which the first, held in January 2015, was titled “Van Gogh – Duchamp: Oil and Water?”

Among those taking part are curators, historians, experts and contemporary artists. The symposium will be a forum not only for expert studies and philological research, but also for spontaneous associative thinking and intellectual speculation.
The symposium “Van Gogh – Pre Pop” (with simultaneous French / English translation) combines short presentations with podium discussions, in which aspects of cultural history as well as specific artistic approaches and practices will be the subject of lively debate.


Download the symposium’s programme here


Mark Alizart: Author and philosopher, he has lately published Informatique céleste (Puf, 2017), Paris.
Jean-Pierre Criqui: Curator at the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Centre Pompidou), Paris
Bice Curiger: Artistic director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles
Adrian Ghenie: Painter, Berlin and Cluj-Napoca
Catherine Grenier: Heritage officer, director of the Fondation Giacometti, Paris
Jörg Heiser: Editor at large of Frieze magazine, director of the Institute for Art in Context at the Universität der Künste Berlin
Sjraar van Heugten: Independent art historian, Van Gogh expert, Utrecht
Philippe Kaenel: Professor of art history at the University of Lausanne and curator of the Gustave Doré retrospective (Paris, Ottawa, 2014), Lausanne
Ingrid Luquet-Gad: Journalist and art critic, editor at the magazine Inrockuptibles, Paris
Pierre-Lin Renié: Artist and professor of art history, former curator at the Musée Goupil, Bordeaux
Pipilotti Rist: Video artist, Zurich
Alexander Roob: Artist, writer, founder of the Melton Prior Institute and professor at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart
Pascal Rousseau: Professor of contemporary art at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and exhibition curator, Paris
Pacôme Thiellement: Author and writer notably on pop music, comics, poésie maudite and TV series, Paris.
Fabien Vallos: Philosopher, publisher, curator and author. Professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles.