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To determine cultural value for the future: is it possible or even desirable?
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3885-8005
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

What art is worth paying attention to and protect as national cultural heritage has changed throughout history. Prior to the 19th century it was not obvious to attach importance to a work of art because of old age. In the context of modernism importance was connected to avant-garde movements.

According to Swedish law old age and price are significant factors in determining what individual works of art are to be guarded as important cultural heritage. Currently, when modernist art begins to reach the crucial age of 100, the amount of works which need permission to leave the country will rise significantly. Permissions have to include assessments of significance as Swedish cultural heritage. Therefore, what parameters ought to be used for modernistic art needs to be discussed. But is it possible or even desirable to formulate national guidelines in order to protect and determine what modernistic art should be regarded as national cultural heritage in the future? This highlights a number of important questions such as: the notion of a national canon (in relation to an international); national canonisation processes; assessment of significant local and regional cultural heritage in relation to national notions.

My intention is to discuss these questions in connection to the introduction of surrealism in Sweden. Based on approximately 200 previously neglected articles I will discuss the reception of “Halmstadgruppen” and its surrealism in the 1930s and 40s. It was constantly described in relation to “Swedish” art, international movements and to preconceived ideas about provincial places such as the city of Halmstad. As a result of successful promotion and some obvious connections to French surrealism, “Halmstadgruppen” quite early was granted a place in the history of Swedish modernism. Local support is firm and visible in “Mjellby Art Museum. The Museum of the Halmstad Group”, privately founded now financed by the city of Halmstad. However, since the millennium “Halmstadgruppen” has not generated any attention compatible to the 1930s. The surrealism of “Halmstadgruppen” seems to be regarded as uninteresting by art critics.

Obviously, the notion of something as a valuable cultural heritage in a national context constantly needs to be nurtured. Exhibitions are not enough. The framing continuously needs to be updated in relation to ongoing theoretical discussions. Reliable and creative academic texts have to be written.

Hopefully, existence of academic research will be one factor in predicting future cultural value. Much harder to handle is the implications of absence of research and currently unimaginable questions of future scholars. Opinions about what modernist art is worth buying, paying attention to and protect as national cultural heritage will probably change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
National Category
Art History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-27206OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-27206DiVA: diva2:770353
Conference
The 10th Triannual Nordik Committee for Art History Conference NORDIK 2012, "The Critical Production of Display and Interpretation in Art History", 24-27 October, 2012, Stockholm, Sweden
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2017-04-27Bibliographically approved

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