Art History and Criticism (HCA)

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Description succinte


Enhanced by multiple methodological and disciplinary approaches, Art History and Criticism (HCA) creates interactions between a wide range of objects of research (visual arts, architecture, photography, music, archaeology, philosophy of art, literature) and their social, political and cultural contexts, from Antiquity to the 21st century. Through a decompartmentalized approach to research, HCA apprehends the notions of “arts” and “criticism” by exploring fields and corpora that more generally form part of the vast field of cultural history. It constructs a transhistorical and interdisciplinary area of debate that takes into account recent theoretical developments such as transnational approaches, visual studies and Bildwissenschaft, history of art and architecture criticism, art anthropology, gender and postcolonial studies.

Research Topics

Criticism and its objects of research: notions, boundaries, corpus

In an original take on the object of “criticism” that draws from several fields (visual arts, architecture, photography, music, etc.) and intersects several disciplines, the research topic adopts a decompartmentalized and transversal approach that crosses methodologies and compares the histories of forms of criticism to build an innovative field of research on criticism and art criticism and, in fine, to conduct investigations on the historiography of criticism.

Objects, sites and architecture: concepts and heritagization

The second research topic deals with tangible culture and focuses on the phenomena of recognition, transmission, conservation, restoration and enhancement. It questions the political, cultural and social mechanisms at the origin of re-appropriation actions, (re)valorization and re-creation strategies, the project actors and scales, and finally the impact of these actions on their social and cultural environment.

Political History of the Arts

This research topic fits the history of the arts into a paradigm where categories such as “ race”, “gender” or “class” – conceived in a non-essentialist manner as historical, political, social and cultural constructions – allow the link between the arts and politics to be rethought.

Interactions: philosophy of art, music, text, image

An intellectual space for intersections and interdisciplinary thought, the fourth research topic is part of a double horizon, that of the hybridization, fringing or fusion of the arts, that of the specificity or radicality of each art. It is intended to be a space for both historical and aesthetic theorization of the relations among the arts and between the arts and thought.


Key Figures: 21 lecturer-researchers / 35 PhD students / 2 postdocs



HCA is associated with the Archives of Art Criticism (ACA) Scientific Interest Group (GIS), with different European projects such as PRISME (, with the ANR project and international research network Mapping Architectural Criticism ( as scientific coordinator, with the H2020 project ECHOES (, and as a partner in the musicology research program Ricercar, Corpus of anonymous masses of the 15th century (CESR, University of Tours).