France Nerlich, Susan Waller and Maite van Dijk will present keynotes at ESNA 2019

France Nerlich, Director of the Research Department at the INHA (Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art), Paris, Susan Waller, Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and Maite van Dijk, Senior Curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum will present keynote papers at the conference Friction and friendships. Cultural encounters in the nineteenth century organized by ESNA (European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art) on 19 and 20 June 2019.

The deadline for sending in proposals is 15 January 2019. Please send proposals (max. 300 words) for a 20-minute paper in English, French or German for this conference to by 15 January 2019 at the latest. For more information, please contact or visit

Vincent van Gogh wrote in 1883: 'I would certainly very much like to spend some time in Paris, because I believe I would get the friction [in Dutch: 'wrijving'] with artists that I'll have to have at some point'. Van Gogh used the word 'friction' in a positive sense, as an encounter in which he could learn and develop his ideas and his art. Peter Burke defined encounters as information and objects that flow in different directions, even if unequally. He noted that 'Ideas, information, artefacts and practices are not simply adopted but on the contrary, are adapted to their new cultural environment. They are first decontextualized and then recontextualized, domesticated or localized. In short, they are translated'.

Burke, however, does not address the strategy and process of encounters. In his quest for friction, Van Gogh sought the utopia of a shared workspace but ended up with broken friendships. Frictions and encounters can abrade and chafe but can nevertheless lead to artistic exchange. The various processes involved in the realization of artistic exchange might have friendship at their base but can just as easily be born out of more antagonistic points of view. This paradox, which can be tested through, for example, theories of friendship, hospitality, solidarity, communication, and productive conflict, among others, is what we want to explore during the conference.

We therefore welcome papers in English, French or German which discuss the role of encounters, how they came about and how they facilitated artistic exchange during the long nineteenth century. We specifically welcome papers that present the mechanisms and prerequisites which make a site, a person or an institution an effective point of encounter, with a special focus on the contextual, theoretical and methodological aspects.