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Polina Kosmadaki (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Head of the Department of Drawings and Prints, Benaki Museum), “Charting Mediterranean Archaisms in a Modern Framework: Christian Zervos and the Cahiers d’art Method”
Christos or Christian Zervos (Argostoli 1889–Paris 1970) played a deﬁnitive role in shaping the cultural climate in interwar Paris through his journal Cahiers d’Αrt, which he founded in 1926 and published until 1960. It was one of the longest-lived modernist journals, which numbered 97 issues. As early as the ﬁrst issue, Cahiers d’Αrt had focused on promoting modern art and on the dialogue between works of different origins and different historical periods. Zervos is also known as the publisher of the iconic catalogue of Pablo Picasso’s paintings from 1932 on, known today as “le Zervos,” as well as his archaeological publications on prehistoric civilisations, for example those of Neolithic or Minoan Crete and the Cyclades. His contribution was particularly signiﬁcant in the dissemination of ancient–especially prehistoric–Greek art as well as the redeﬁnition of ancient civilisations and archaic forms in the context of modernism. In this lecture, I will try to expose the key aspects of Christian Zervos’ methodology in Cahiers d’art and in editions focusing on the creation of meaningful relationships between Mediterranean and earlier civilizations and the art of his time. I will speak about both his position and his practice in regard to the redeﬁnition and reappraisal of various archaisms during the interwar period, and make a case for his innovative approach of fusing modernism and antiquity within a liquid conception of time.
Polina Kosmadaki is an art historian living and working in Athens. She holds a Ph.D in Art History from the University of Paris-IV-Sorbonne. She is currently Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Head of the Department of Paintings of the Benaki Museum, Athens and a Lecturer of Art History in the European Studies program of the Hellenic Open University. Since 2008 she is an associate researcher of the French School at Athens’ Modern Section, currently the Head Researcher of a project on the editor and art critic Christian Zervos and his journal Cahiers d’art. She has edited the volumes: Christian Zervos & Cahiers d’art, the archaic turn, 2019; Paris-Athènes 1919-1939 Le double voyage, École Francaise d’Athènes, 2018 (with Lucile Farnoux); Greece: Traces of today, Imago Mundi, Fabrica, Luciano Benetton Foundation, 2015; Institution critique-critical institutions, AICA HELLAS, September 2013 (with Elpida Karampa). She has curated numerous exhibitions both for the Benaki Museum and as an independent curator, for example: Christian Zervos & Cahiers d’art, Benaki Museum, Musée Zervos Vézelay, École Francaise d‘Athènes 2019, Jannis Varelas, Anima I, 2019, Liquid Antiquity, DESTE & Benaki Museum 2017, Ametria, Deste & Benaki Museum, 2015, George Lappas, Happy Birthday, Deste & Benaki Museum 2016, Cabinets of Miracles with Christoforos Marinos for ZONE D, 2010. Since 2011 she is running the commissions program «Artists in dialogue with the Benaki Museum» (Andy Holden, Adam Chodzko, Ciara Philips, Zafos Xagoraris, Antonis Pittas), in collaboration with the British Council, Greece.
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