„Die Dorfbewohner fanden wir gleich sehr zutraulich …“: Kunst und ländlicher Raum
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The rural in the arts and the arts in the rural area have been rather neglected issues of art historical research. This paper, on the one hand, seeks to survey the status quo of knowledge and academic discourse pertaining to the subject and, on the other, tries to outline recent developments in the field. It delineates how the rural scene, the farm life and agriculture have been motives and themes in the visual arts from the European Late Middle Ages to the modern era, thereby exposing recurring phenomena in the realm of iconography and aesthetics as well as art historical discussion and interpretation. Perceiving the rural as otherness while at the same time colonizing and visually appropriating it appear to be decisive aspects of its artistic rendering and academic classification likewise. This observation applies to the arts in the rural area, i.e. on-site, too. Whereas historical artifacts produced by villagers are depreciated as folk art and considered research material for ethnographic studies only, artists’ colonies in the rural area, which for the first time occurred in the early 19th century, prove the prolonged city-countryside-dichotomy and its traditionally strong hierarchical bias. However, and interestingly so, the present trend towards the “Künstlerdorf” (“artists’ village”) opens up new vistas of dealing with the subject and – most notably – demonstrates social practices that go along with vanguard concepts of participatory art by revitalizing the myth of village community.
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