How have the arts accompanied, underpinned, prefigured, the fantasies of racial purity or genius of peoples? Eric Michaud reminds us that art is one of the means of making the imperceptible visible, and that it therefore has the possibility of supporting distinctions, hierarchies, differences between human groups that would otherwise be invisible because they do not exist.
How has art presented itself as the essence of a culture by assigning itself to a particular soil and people?
ric Michaud’s essay, Les Invasions barbares, une généalogie de l’histoire de l’art, offers a valuable reflection, at once historical, philosophical, and aesthetic on the history of art, and more generally on the relationship of art to reality: what is the relationship of engendering between art and reality, which imitates the other? How art, as a phantasmatic image of a culture, of its value has the power to separate different human groups and to hierarchize them? How, in history, has art used this capacity to participate in racist ideologies?
Eric Michaud is an art historian, Director of studies at EHESS à Paris (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales). His research is at the crossroads of history and art history.