Maria Stavrinaki


Maria Stavrinaki

Habilitierte Associate Professor, History and Theory of contemporary Art

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France


November 2019 – Januar 2020


My research on prehistory was inscribed in an interrogation on the historicity of modernity as an ambivalent, even a conflicting field of the relations between art and the human and social sciences with nature and with technique. For a long time, and even more today in the context of the mediatized discourse on the Anthropocene, the foundations of modernity are essentially looking for the instrumental thought of Bacon and the Cartesian dualism separating the cogito from the man. of nature, postulating the extension and therefore the absolute domestication of the world and of time (acceleration, progress, tabula rasa, linear utopia, etc.). This narrative was interrupted from time to time and from the outside by primitivism and the return to order. The main danger is the neutralizing effect of the dual symmetry – action and reaction, modern and antimodern, revolutionary and reactionary. Not that these two camps did not exist, but because the heuristic value of the tension, the aporias inherent in important cases, de-familiarize the gaze on history and thereby break the opacity of the present. I want to participate in an attempt to redefine the identity of the moderns rather than give ourselves the role of those who know better than our predecessors; rather than exercise our modern crisis over the past, of which our present would be like the tail of a comet, the idea would be to seek more the critical exercise that each past present has exerted on itself. Optimism and doubt, the project of seizing everything, with the secret aim perhaps of disengaging it and never completing the totalizing project, so that history can continue, all this can coexist within the same consciousness of time.

After having carried out a long-term project on prehistory as an ambivalent and critical object, I would like to pursue the intellectual project of “ambivalent modernity” here at BildEvidenz by starting to test three hypotheses-research fields : the ways in which the atom has nourished the imagination and the reality of modernity; the uses that many artists have made of the “Museum without walls” of Malraux, which promised them to control the totality of the history of art ; finally, the idea that the „terra incognita“, even if it was reduced in geographical maps through the domestication of the world, it continued to preoccupy modernity in several creative forms.


  • Modern and Contemporary Art in Europe and the USA
  • Interpretations of Modernity through the relations of art, human sciences and politics
  • Art and Time (Apocalyptic figures, Messianism, Primitivism, Geology, Prehistory, Anti-History)
  • The Writing of (Art)History


Saisis par la préhistoire. Récits sur l’art et le temps des modernes, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2019.

Contraindre à la liberté. Carl Einstein, les avant-gardes, l’histoire, Paris/Dijon, Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art/les presses du réel, 2018.

Le sujet et son milieu : huit essais sur les avant-gardes allemandes, Genève, Mamco (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain), 2018.

Dada Presentism. An Essay on Art and History, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2016.

La Chaîne de verre. Une correspondance expressionniste, Paris, Les Editions de la Villette, 2009.


Maria Stavrinaki

Kolleg-Forschergruppe BildEvidenz

Animallee 10
14195 Berlin