Lecture by Christian Kravagna: Birds. Snakes. Palms. Power. What can Dutch painting tell us about Austrian colonialism?

Lecture series Lektionen / Lessons
Paintings Gallery

Using Willem de Rooij’s King Vulture as a starting point, this lecture follows some tracks from Dutch painting to Austrian colonialisms and colonial cultures. As the vultures, peacocks, and cranes in the Paintings Gallery demonstrate, “exotic” birds (and other animals) play an important role in the process of the formation of colonial stereotypes. The Natural History of European Painting opens up insights into the narrowing of Western perception and the principle of repetition that characterize colonial discursive and visual regimes. The historical pivot of this lecture is the Austrian expedition to Brazil (from 1817) with the painter Thomas Ender. Through Ender’s American images, we look at historical and contemporary manifestations of Austrian “colonialism without colonies” and the more or less critical attempts to deal with this legacy.

Lecture in English

Christian Kravagna is an art historian and Professor of Postcolonial Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. His recent publications include the books Transmodern: An art history of contact, 1920–60 (2022); Transmoderne: Eine Kunstgeschichte des Kontakts (2017) and (with Cornelia Kogoj) Das amerikanische Museum: Sklaverei, Schwarze Geschichte und der Kampf um Gerechtigkeit in Museen der Südstaaten (2019). In 2024 he will be curator of the exhibition Avant-garde and Liberation at the mumok in Vienna

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