A Modern Day Salon de Refusés: Reconnecting with the Rejected

deadline for submissions: 
November 27, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Arizona State University's Council for Graduate Art Historians
contact email: 

The Council of Graduate Art Historians at Arizona State University is pleased to announce “A Modern Day Salon de Refusés, Reconnecting with the Rejected”, their 12th annual graduate student research symposium.  This year, the symposium will again be held on Saturday March 24th, at the Phoenix Art Museum, where we will be exploring undervalued works of art and their importance throughout history.


In a modern world where diversity and respect are encouraged in every aspect of life, it is still hard to come to terms with the current negative mindset surrounding the arts.  An example of this negativity can be demonstrated by the initial plan to eliminate the National Endowments for the Humanities and Arts, for which, thankfully, the funds been reinstated; however, this perilous legislation speaks to the larger issue of the arts being under political assault in general.  One is eerily reminded of The Paris Salon of 1863, which infamously rejected Edouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe.  This refusal prompted him to exhibit his now-famous work in the Salon de Refusés in the same year, along with other prominent artists without the endorsement of the French National Academy of Fine Arts.  He did not need their validation to fuel his ambition, a sentiment that holds true for many artists working today. 


The majority of the canon of art history is structured around aesthetic critique grounded in ideals of beauty, inviting the widespread respect of artists such as Michelangelo, Renoir, Praxiteles, and others.  However, this does not mean that we as academics shouldn’t research and promote rejected or exiled artists and their works.  In this symposium, we wish to provide a voice to works that are not as well known or appreciated, yet are evocative and speak to their context and, furthermore, transcend it to speak to ours.  Therefore, we ask for abstracts of papers that address rejected art and its place in society.  In keeping with the inclusive nature of the original Salon de Refusés, we also welcome topics from any time period, discipline, and/or geographical region.


Suggestions of research questions and themes to explore include, but are not limited to:

  • Can/should there be an “ideal” art form?
  • The dichotomies of good/bad art during different eras and what that constitutes
  • What kinds of art/people/styles have been left out of the generally taught canon?

○      Why were those art/people/styles refused in the first place?

○      Why should we include them now?

  • Trace the evolution of the reception for particular works or artists

○      Ex. Vincent van Gogh’s paintings were unappreciated while he was alive, but now they have their own museum in Holland

  • What is the ancient/renaissance/contemporary notion of “obscure art”?
  • Why do we need to study non-conforming or unworthy art?  What can it add to our understanding of history or ourselves?
  • How do artworks that challenge the social norms of the past and present function?
  • Is there a new or revised methodology that would enhance our understanding of refused art?


Please send a 300-500 word abstract and a short CV to cogahASU@gmail.com by 11 pm on Monday November 27th; notifications will be sent no later than December 1st.  Submission is open to graduate students of any rank or program, not only art historians; we welcome abstracts from related disciplines such as history, anthropology, classics, etc.  MFAs may submit photos or copies of their work, along with an abbreviated artist statement that touches on how the work and presentation of that work fits into the symposium topic.  For questions or more details, please contact the email above.  We look forward to reading your abstracts and providing a diverse, inquisitive program this March in the same inclusive spirits of that first Salon.