Julian Blunk

Victor Hugo (1802-1885), “Dentelles et spectres”. Paris, maison de Victor Hugo.

Dr. Julian Blunk


Research Project

On the relationship between style and haunting in the aesthetic debates of historicism


The idea that the recovery of a historic style or even the restoration of a historic artefact would also resurrect the “Zeitgeist“ (literally the “ghost of the time“) of that particular period represented both the biggest hope and the greatest concern of historicism. Especially its chronic sense of crisis, which was rooted in deep-seated doubts about the plausibility of its own claims of historical styles, its historiographical assumptions and theoretical models of history, not only opened up discussions in conservation and art politics to ghosts of the past but also allowed for the debate on style to enter a literary genre that came to be known as Gothic fiction. Self-reflective historicists shared the general view that their work on the revival of an historical style resembled the summoning of an undead whose sympathetic compliance could not be taken for granted.

Against the backdrop of the political, socio-cultural and technological ruptures of the “long“ nineteenth century, the research project intends to trace systematically the reciprocity of the discourses on the historicity of the style and the presence of ghosts, a reciprocity that was established by structural analogies, nomenclatures, metaphors and narratives as well as interpretations of style and stylistic decisions. The study is guided by the main hypothesis that the invocation of haunting – when it coincided with the discourse on style in debates about the legitimacy of cultural heritage claims – not only offered a reliable diagnosis of the theoretical and practical weaknesses in the creation of historicist evidence but also and ultimately aimed at overcoming it.



I studied art history and film and television studies at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, which I completed in 2003 with an MA thesis on Andrea Pozzo’s frescoes in St. Ignatius Church in Rome. From 2003 to 2006 I was fellow of the international graduate collage 625 Institutionelle Ordnungen, Schrift und Symbole / Ordres institutionnels, écrit et symboles at the Technical University of Dresden and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris). In 2008, I received my PhD with a study on the French royal tombs in the early modern period. The thesis was supervised by Professors Bruno Klein and Guy-Michel Leproux and published as a book in 2011 (Das Taktieren mit den Toten: Die französischen Königsgrabmäler in der Frühen Neuzeit). From 2008 to 2016 I was research and teaching associate of Professor Tanja Michalsky at the “Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Ästhetik”, Berlin University of the Arts. Since 2016 I’m working as a post-doctoral research fellow at the research group “BildEvidenz”, Department of History and Cultural Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Editor of kritische berichte (since 2018).

Research Interests

  • Renaissance and Baroque art (especially sepulchral art, illusionistic ceiling painting)
  • architecture and architectural theory of historicism
  • fictional and documentary film, especially in his interests in architecture and fine art
  • political iconography, politics of art
  • theories of social memory
  • questions of style


„Das Taktieren mit den Toten. Die französischen Königsgrabmäler in der Frühen Neuzeit“ (Diss., 441 S.), Böhlau Verlag (Studien zur Kunst Bd. 22), Köln/Weimar/Wien 2011.
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„Filmstil als Filmdekor. Gedanken über den Paragone, Stoffhierarchien und Stillagen am Beispiel der Künstlerbiografie im Spielfilm“, in: Julian Blunk, Tina Kaiser, Dietmar Kammerer und Chris Wahl (Hrsg.): Filmstil. Perspektivierungen eines Begriffs, Edition text&kritik, München 2016, S. 142–166.

„Untote Kunstrichter: in diesem Style sollt ihr bauen!“, in: Kritische Berichte 1/2014: Stil /Style. Hrsg. von Joseph Imorde und Jan von Brevern, S. 19–34.
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„Andrea Pozzos Anamorphosen des religiösen Bildes: Metamalerei in Sant’Ignazio“, in: Matthias Bleyl und Pascal Dubourg-Glatigny (Hrsg.): Quadratura Malerei. Geschichte – Theorien – Techniken, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin/München 2011, S. 237–251.
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„Das Grabmal Ludwigs XII. in Saint-Denis. Zum sepulkralen Denkmalkrieg zwischen den Häusern Valois und Sforza“, in: Carolin Behrmann, Arne Karsten und Philipp Zitzlsperger (Hrsg.): Grab, Kult, Memoria. Studien zur gesellschaftlichen Funktion von Erinnerung, Böhlau Verlag, Köln/Weimar/Wien 2007, S. 219–237.
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→ List of publications


Herausgabe der kritischen berichte 3/2018: „Vakanz. Semantiken und Ästhetiken architektonischen Leerstands“
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Herausgabe der Tagungsakten der internationalen Konferenz „Stil als (geistiges) Eigentum / Style as (intellectual) Property“, 23.-25.Juni 2016, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rom (mit Prof. Dr. Tanja Michalsky)



Julian Blunk

Center for Advanced Studies BildEvidenz

Arnimallee 10
14195 Berlin

Tel.: +49(0)30-838-50952


Homepage at the KHI of the FU