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Imagined Cosmopolis

Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s


Edited By Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner

The period from the 1870s to the 1920s was marked by an interplay between nationalisms and internationalisms, culminating in the First World War, on the one hand, and the creation of the League of Nations, on the other. The arts were central to this debate, contributing both to the creation of national traditions and to the emergence of ideas, objects and networks that forged connections between nations or that enabled internationalists to imagine a different world order altogether. The essays presented here explore the ways in which the arts operated internationally during this crucial period of nation-making, and how they helped to challenge national conceptions of citizenship, society, homeland and native tongue. The collection arises from the AHRC-funded research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920 (ICE; 2009–2014) and its enquiry into the histories of cultural internationalism and their historiographical implications.

This collection has been edited by members of the ICE network convened by Grace Brockington and Sarah Victoria Turner.

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8. Third Culture Artists: Scandinavians in Paris (Vibeke RÆStorp)


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8   Third Culture Artists: Scandinavians in Paris

Until very recently, the accepted orthodoxy in Swedish and Norwegian art history has been that Scandinavian artists flocked to France only during the 1870s and 1880s, and that in the 1890s they returned home with the goal of creating national art cultures.1 This traditional, and still dominant, historiography insists on the foundational importance of the break with France and French influence. But the history of the homecomers has been written at the expense of those who decided to pursue their careers abroad. In fact, the theory of return is an enduring myth created by the returning artists and their supporters to promote their own artistic agendas. Paris was home – permanently or temporarily – to a large number of Scandinavian artists even during the 1890s and 1900s. Statistics show that the number of Scandinavian artists participating in the Parisian Salons remained largely consistent and that French art critics maintained a lively interest in them.2

This chapter explores the national identity of the Scandinavian artistic community in France and the development within that community of a ‘third culture’ as key to their commercial success abroad. This expression was first coined in the 1950s by the sociologist Ruth Hill Useem, who, in her study of children brought up in a country that was not that of their ← 165 | 166 → parents, observed that a ‘third culture’ emerges which runs parallel to that of their home...

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