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National galleries: the art of making nations

National galleries: the art of making nations

Knell, Simon J., author

Are national galleries different from other kinds of art gallery or museum? What value is there for the nation in a collection of international masterpieces? How are national galleries involved in the construction national art? National Galleries is the first book to undertake a panoramic view of a type of national institution - which are sometimes called national museums of fine art - that is now found in almost every nation on earth. Adopting a richly illustrated, globally inclusive, comparative view, Simon Knell argues that national galleries should not be understood as `great galleries' but as peculiar sites where art is made to perform in acts of nation building. A book that fundamentally rewrites the history of these institutions and encourages the reader to dispense with elitist views of their worth, Knell reveals an unseen geography and a rich complexity of performance. He considers the ways the national galleries entangle art and nation, and the differing trajectories and purposes of international and national art. Exploring galleries, artists and artworks from around the world, National Galleries is an argument about how we think about and study these institutions. Privileging the situatedness of each national gallery performance, and valuing localism over universalism, Knell looks particularly at how national art is constructed and represented. He ends with examples that show the mutability of national art and by questioning the necessity of art nationalism

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published London: Routledge, 2016
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Statement of responsibility: Simon Knell
ISBN: 1317432428, 9781317432425
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 224 pages
Subject: Art museums Social aspects.; National museums Philosophy.; Art museums Philosophy.; National museums Social aspects.; Nationalism and art.; Art and Design.
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9780415725149


  1. Preface
  2. List of Plates
  3. List of Figures
  5. 1. Picturing the national gallery
  6. Budapest 2012
  7. Embarking on a new journey
  8. Defining the national gallery
  9. Redefining and complicating the definition
  10. Boundary institutions
  11. Putting the nation in the gallery
  12. Nations, the national and the international
  13. The political agency of national galleries
  14. The national gallery and the art-nation
  16. 2. Entangling art and nation
  17. Oslo 2011
  18. Isolating artists
  19. Subjects and essences
  20. Citizens and foreigners
  21. Inscription and entombment
  22. Making up stories
  23. Respecting the nation
  24. 3. National and international art
  25. London 2013
  26. Accumulating masterpieces
  27. An authored geography
  28. An idiosyncratic inheritance
  29. Appropriation and moral purpose
  30. The nation as a moral good
  31. The psychology of taste
  33. 4. The Invention of national galleries
  34. London 1629
  35. The National Gallery
  36. The Louvre
  37. Nationalising the royal museum
  38. National galleries as projects of unification
  39. National galleries and the fight for independence
  40. State art museums, ideology and control
  41. Fanaticism and the national gallery
  42. National galleries and fragmenting nations
  43. Diverse invention
  44. 5. An idea in global translation
  45. Mexico City 2000
  46. Latin America
  47. The British model abroad
  48. Speaking to the world
  49. Censorship, propaganda and freedom
  50. The independent nation
  51. Building a better world
  53. 6. Buildings in cities
  54. Canberra 2010
  55. The curated city or the body of the nation
  56. An aesthetic paradigm
  57. A functional ideal
  58. Galleries for the nation
  59. Function and nation
  60. Brutalism, blandness and bling
  61. Strange appropriations
  62. 7. Performances in space
  63. London 2013
  64. Harmonic agency
  65. Movement and culmination
  66. Scale, spectacle, transcendence and the sublime
  67. Inserting the nation
  68. Storied space
  69. Political maps of culture
  70. Convention and invention
  72. 8. Making national art
  73. Tirana 2012
  74. State realisms in Russia, Germany and China
  75. Academic nationalism in Poland
  76. The Prado and the invention of the Spanish tradition
  77. National art perfected: Canada's Group of Seven
  78. 9. Admitting complexity
  79. Guernica 1937
  80. Impressionism, Australia and the national artist
  81. Internationalism and the Hungarian Fauves
  82. Contesting New Zealand's Colin McCahon
  83. America's inclusive abstraction and Latino art
  84. Beyond nation, beyond art: Indigenous Australia