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Professor Matthew Rampley has been awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council.

The award of €2.4 million is for the five-year project ‘Continuity and Rupture in Central European Art and Architecture, 1918-1939’.

Karl Ehn, Front façade of the Karl Marx Hof, Vienna

It examines how the arts responded to the political upheavals in central Europe after the First World War, in particular, the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the creation of the new states of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

It aims to answer several questions, including:

Lajos Kassák, Collage No. 22 (1922)
  • How did such huge political change affect architecture and the visual arts?
  • Why were many artists and architects keen to embrace the new opportunities that were available, and happily consigned the memory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to oblivion, when others were either ambivalent about its loss or mourned its passing, and how were such varied attitudes expressed? and,
  • How did the governments of the newly created states define themselves, and how did they use the arts to promote such definitions?

The project is an examination of the culture and politics of memory in the visual arts and has contemporary relevance. Most states of the former Austria-Hungary still enjoy a special relationship as members of the Visegrad group, which comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. There is a sense, therefore, that the old Empire cast a long shadow over the countries and societies that arose after its demise.