The international conference “Tempera painting between 1800 and 1950. Experiments and innovations from the Nazarene movement to abstract art” was held from 15-17 March 2018 in Munich.
The event was hosted by the Doerner Institut of the Bavarian State Painting Collections in close cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, the Chair of Conservation-Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science at the Technical University Munich and the museum partners Museum Villa Stuck and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus.
The conference was stimulated by the intense academic research and scholarly exchange on the fascinating and complex history of tempera painting at the dawn of modernity that has been going on among numerous institutions and scholars for about 10 years. More than 270 participants from 22 countries – conservators, painting technologists, scientists and art-historians – encountered two days of cross-disciplinary lectures at the Pinakothek der Moderne covering a broad range of questions: What were the artists trying to achieve? Which materials did they use and how did they prepare and apply them? How can we examine and understand their techniques? Finally, how can we preserve the works of art for future generations? The lectures combined manifold professional viewing angles on tempera paintings – discussing issues such as the historical terminology, the individual working practice of various artists (e.g. Paul Klee, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Christiana Herringham, Joseph Southall or Edward Steichen), research into the production of commercial tempera paint brands, reconstruction attempts, chemical and rheological aspects of tempera paints and recent analyses.
Beside the theoretical discourse, a third day was dedicated to 10 practical workshops and guided gallery tours. Many participants appreciated this opportunity to get hands-on experience of the making of tempera paints following various historical recipes as well as the opportunity to study works of tempera paintings e.g. by Arnold Böcklin, Franz von Stuck or Julius Exter preserved in Munich museums.
The publication of the conference proceedings is foreseen in spring 2019 by Archetype, London. Interested scholars shall also be referred to the book “Painting in Tempera c. 1900” published in 2016 by the international Tempera Working Group.
The conference was made possible through generous funding provided by the EU 2020 project IPERION CH and the Volkswagenstiftung, Hanover as well as donations of workshop materials by Kremer Pigmente, Aichstetten and Künstlerbedarf Schachinger, Munich.
Heike Stege on behalf of the organising committee, Doerner Institut