For much of the twentieth century, “Revivalism” and “Historicism” were seen as reactionary and outmoded tendencies in design. In 1961 Nikolaus Pevsner dismissed it out of hand, stating “all reviving of styles of the past is a sign of weakness.” Despite this sweeping condemnation, historicist and revivalist styles thrived in various parts of the world throughout the twentieth century, driven by a combination of nationalist, religious, aesthetic, and political agendas. This symposium aims to explore the meanings and deeper significance of revivalist movements in design, both short-lived and in the recurring forms that survived over longer periods. The main focus of the symposium will be design and decoration, both public and domestic, but there will be some consideration of architecture, which was often instrumental in establishing the iconography of revivalist movements. The underlying aim is not to rehabilitate revivalism, but to recognize its power in the modern world, and the ways in which revivalist styles in design and decoration have helped to shape public consciousness and identity.

Topics to be addressed will include National Romanticism, Colonial Revivalism, Craft as national identity and living tradition, the Neo-Baroque, and revivalism and nationalism in a post-colonial world.


Speakers include Kim Brandt, Columbia University; David Crowley, National College of Art and Design, Dublin; Christina DeLeon, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and Bard Graduate Center; Juliet Kinchin, Museum of Modern Art; Hedvig Mårdh, Uppsala University; Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Yale University; Paul Stirton, Bard Graduate Center; and Catherine Whalen, Bard Graduate Center.

Please check back soon for a full schedule.