Appel à contribution : « Indeterminacy in Netherlandish Visual Arts and Culture (1400-1800) », Amsterdam, 2-5 juin 2021, date limite le 1er juillet 2020

In preparation of the HNA conference 2-5 June 2021, organized by the University of Amsterdam and the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, the program committee invites HNA members to submit proposals for paper sessions. The sessions are posted on the HNA website. Please submit your proposal(s) to the session chair(s), not the program committee. Applicants are allowed to submit multiple proposals to different sessions, but please inform all appropriate chairs about this at the time of application. Participants may present only one paper at the conference. Session chairs are not allowed to present a paper in their own session.

As part of 90 minute-sessions, papers should be max. 20 minutes long. Proposals should present new, rather than published research and reflect the current state of scholarship. Please send proposals of max. 500 words, along with a single-paged curriculum vitae, to the session chair(s). Deadline: 1 July 2020. Applicants will be notified by the session chair(s) no later than 1 August 2020.

Program committee: Stijn Bussels, Leiden University (chair) ; Edwin Buijsen, Mauritshuis ; Suzanne Laemers, RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History ; Judith Noorman, University of Amsterdam ; Gabri van Tussenbroek, University of Amsterdam / City of Amsterdam Abbie Vandivere, Mauritshuis and University of Amsterdam.

Organizers: Ralph Dekoninck ( ; Ingrid Falque ( ; Caroline Heering (

The art of the Netherlands in the early modern period is full of works whose meaning is not revealed at first glance, or whose interpretations by art historians have revealed all the ambiguity. Just think of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, Quinten Massys’ Money Changer and his Wife or Johannes Vermeer’s Art of Painting to name only a few famous examples which have been deciphered by scholars in turn from a moralizing, allegorical, spiritual or profane perspective. All the interpretations that have been forged on these works are but one reflection of the way ambiguity is cultivated in all registers of early modern Netherlandish visual culture. Double images, illusionism, visual games, framing devices, plays between different levels of reality, the indeterminacy of pictorial spaces, emblematic and rebus are other key components of this taste for ambivalence.

In this session, we would like to invite papers that will explore early modern Netherlandish visual arts and culture in the light of the concept of “indeterminacy”, understood as “the character of something undefined, unestablished, not precisely outlined” (Dario Gamboni, Potential Images. Ambiguity and Indeterminacy in Modern Art, 2002, 13), and its variations of ambiguity (the character of what is open to several interpretations) and ambivalence (the character of what has two opposing components). These concepts can be applied to different, yet intimately related, registers:

  • that of the images themselves and their internal functioning: i.e. their iconography, composition, formal language which can be read in different ways);
  • that of the experience and use of images at the time of their reception: how do we define and understand the relationship between these images and their producers, patrons and beholders, depending notably on where and how they were gazed and used (private or public spaces, in an intimate or distant relation…);
  • and finally that of the interpretative layers that have been superimposed up to the present day by art historians: it is sufficient to think of the many debates that the paintings mentioned above have provoked in the course of time.

Considering artworks through the prism of indeterminacy will enable us to unlock the potentialities of images without confining them to single interpretations or compartmentalize them in specific genres, that are side-effect of traditional iconographical approach. Instead, it will allow us to grasp the polysemy and richness of the images. On a more general level, this approach will also allow to reconsider the relationships between form and meaning, but also between genres or between the profane and the sacred, and therefore invite us to consider the process of indeterminacy as a participant in the power of artworks.


OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Florence Larcher (25 juin 2020). Appel à contribution : « Indeterminacy in Netherlandish Visual Arts and Culture (1400-1800) », Amsterdam, 2-5 juin 2021, date limite le 1er juillet 2020. Collectif d'Historiens de l'Art de la Renaissance. Consulté le 18 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Florence Larcher

Florence Larcher est doctorante à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches sur les images de saint Roch en Italie de 1350 à 1680 l'amènent à étudier la peinture murale, la sérialité et l'itinérance des peintres.

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