Ines Rotermund-Reynard spoke at the Paul and Irene Hollister Lectures on Glass on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Her talk is entitled “Beads and Buttons from Briare: A Global Industrial Success Story from 19th-Century France.”

In her talk at the BGC, Rotermund-Reynard will discuss the cultural history of 19th-century bead-making in the French town of Briare. Inventor of a new manufacturing process for the production of buttons and beads, Jean-Félix Bapterosses (1813-1885) was also an outstanding example of the moral qualities of the bourgeois industrialist in 19th-century French society. Rather than describe the economic development of the Briare beads and buttons production, Rotermund-Reynard will focus on the material object itself, in particular on its expressive character, from which emerges the portrait of a collective identity. This approach, in which an attempt is made to decipher the whole by examining the detail, leads us to question the bead itself: What does the material of which it is made tell us about the time it was created? What does its form tell us about the newly invented technical procedure? What does its color tell us about the social conditions of both the society that created these beads and the societies that received and adopted them? Doesn’t it seem that the Briare bead and its thousand-fold reproduction bear the signature of 19th-century Europe, as the philosopher Walter Benjamin might say?

Ines Rotermund-Reynard is an associate member of the Research Lab CEPA (Culture, esthétique et philosophie de l’art) at the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, and an associate lecturer in the Art History department of the University of Cologne. She received an MA in Art History, General Rhetoric and German Literature at the University of Tübingen, Germany, a French MA at the University of Paris 8, and a bi-national PhD at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and the Freie Universität, Berlin. She taught German Studies (1999-2002) and 20th-century Art History (2006-2009) at the University of Lille III and the University of Paris I/Panthéon-Sorbonne. Her main research fields are exile studies and provenance research. She is at present the recipient of a fellowship from the Thyssen Foundation (Cologne) to write a biography of the German Jewish art critic, Paul Westheim. As a postdoctoral research fellow of the German Historical Institute in Moscow, she worked on the archives of German-speaking artists, writers, and critics exiled in Paris in the 1930s—archives that had been seized first by the Nazis and then transported to Moscow by the Red Army. The upcoming publication, Echoes of Exile, Moscow Archives and the Arts in Paris 1933-1945, edited by Ines Rotermund-Reynard and Walter de Gruyter, examines these previously unknown sources.