Institut für Kunstgeschichte



International Workshop „MINOR FORMS. Politics of Smallness Around 1800“

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Institute of Art History, Zentnerstr. 31, 80798 Munich, Room 007 14 June 2019


The period around 1800 is typically characterised by scholars through concepts such as the heroic, the pathetic or the sublime. Accordingly, notions like ‘magnitude’ (Großheit), ‘oneness’ (Einheit), and ‘totality’ (Totalität) are recurrent terms within the art theory at the time in order to meet the contemporary desire for ‘major’ aesthetic concepts. Even the nascent art historical discourse in the contemporary moment testifies a pronounced interest in totalisations: Attempts to grasp the history of art in its totality are legion. In opposition to these tendencies, this workshop focuses on small and marginalised instances of artistic production and their potentialities.

Minor forms may concern a wide range of aspects, such as scale (especially miniatures and miniaturisation), genre hierarchies (the combination of low subjects with consonant formal decisions), questions of materiality (the use of supposedly worthless material), and the state of elaboration (the draft, the unfinished etc.). Indeed, minor forms is a relational term, a concept that is defined through its relation to a major form.

The aim of the workshop is to examine precisely the potential for critical commentary on hegemonic forms of art and knowledge and to chart the shape, contours, potentialities, and possibilities of minor forms.


2 p.m. coffee / welcome
2.30 p.m. Introduction (Léa Kuhn)

Smallness and Discursive Framings
Chair: Johanna-Charlotte Horst (Munich)

2.45 p.m. Jan von Brevern (Berlin): Denner’s Disgusting Details

3.30 p.m. Christian Drobe (Halle-Wittenberg): Ruins and the Private. Smallness as a Flexible Discourse for the Emergence of Modern Archeology and the Bourgeoisie

4.15 p.m. coffee break

Small Forms and Objects
Chair: Ulrike Keuper (Munich)

4.45 p.m. Michelle Moseley-Christian (Blacksburg, Virg.): Miniature and Microscopy: Collecting ‘the Small’ in the Long Eighteenth-Century Netherlands

5.30 p.m. Etienne Wismer (Bern): Having the World at Home. Politics of Wallpapers

6.30 p.m. Hannah Williams (Paris/London): A Pair of Spectacles & an Account Book. The Lives of Little Things in the Paris Art World

8 p.m. conference dinner (speakers only)

Concept: Léa Kuhn