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.

9:30 am
Peter N. Miller
Bard Graduate Center
Paul Stirton
Bard Graduate Center

9:45 am
Paul Stirton
Bard Graduate Center
History, Historicism, and Revivalism

10 am
Juliet Kinchin
The Museum of Modern Art
Folk-Baroque-Modern: Synthesis and Mutation in Twentieth-Century Hungarian Design

10:40 am
Hedvig Mårdh
Uppsala University
The Gustavian Revival in Sweden

11:20 am
Coffee Break

11:40 am
Catherine Whalen
Bard Graduate Center
Americana Redux: Unruly Icons in the US Colonial Revival

12:20 pm
Christina L. De León
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum; Bard Graduate Center
Indigenous Revivalism in Latin America

1 pm
Lunch Break

2 pm
Antonio Fiore
Center for Italian Modern Art
The Shadows of Rome: The Classical Revival in Italy

2:40 pm
Kim Brandt
Columbia University
Made in Japan: Folk-Modernism and Mingei in the 1950s

3:20 pm
Coffee Break

3:40 pm
David Crowley
National College of Art and Design, Dublin
Modernism and the Spectres of the Past in Piłsudski’s Poland

4:20 pm
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen
Yale University
Baroque Eons in Modern Architecture

5 pm
Panel Discussion

5:30 pm