Regarding Nicolas Calas: An International Symposium


Athens School of Fine Arts, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

21-22 October 2016


Poet, critic, curator, and theoretician Nicolas Calas’s work spanned the formation of modernism in Greece, the theoretical and political orientation of French Surrealism in the late 1930s, Surrealism’s American interlude in the 1940s, and the directions of postwar art in the US. This symposium seeks to open Calas’s theories and practice to a broader public and invites proposals from scholars and creative artists to reflect upon the contexts of his theoretical, critical, poetic output, as well as his curatorial practice and involvement within the art world. Addressing this important yet for a time neglected or mythologised figure of the transcontinental avant-garde, this symposium aims to reappraise Calas and present new work on under-researched angles and hitherto unexplored connections with artists, critics, and scholars of his own time. The intention is to explore the important interfaces of Calas’s writings on art, theory, his poetry and politics, and engage with him as a ‘nomadic sage’ moving across and within different cultures and critical idioms.


Parallel events will also comprise a series of workshops and an exhibition that will be hosted at the Athens School of Fine Arts. The workshops will be organised under three thematic clusters,poetics, politics, paradoxand will invite practicing artists who work in different media to respond to the diverse contexts of Calas’s work and engage with The Elena and Nicolas Calas archive that is held in The Nordic Library in Athens. The symposium will coincide with the opening of the exhibition that will present work produced in the workshops.


Plenary speaker: Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, City University of New York

Please send proposals (250 words) for 20-minute papers together with a short bio note by April 30, 2016.


Possible lines of enquiry ‘regarding Nicolas Calas’ may include:


•              Politics, poetry and psychoanalysis and their influence on Calas’s thought and practice

•              Surrealist affinities and Calas’s eclecticism and unique voice

The American art scene during the Cold War

•              The contexts of Abstract Expressionism, Calas’s participation at The Club, his exchange with Barnett Newman and other up-and-coming artists of the European and American art scenes such as Jasper Johns, Marcel Broodthaers, Chryssa, Takis, George Brecht, Fluxus, John Cage et al.

•              Calas’s writings for art magazines such as ViewTiger’s EyeArtforumArt Magazineet al.

Calas in the Village Voice

•              Calas as educator

•              The influence of anthropology and his collaborations with Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict

•              Calas’s relation to Breton

•              Calas’s relation to Bataille and the Collège de sociologie

•              Calas as collector, curator and art director of various galleries, including his close relationship with Peggy Guggenheim, Marian Goodman, Lawrence Alloway,  and other gallerists, curators and collectors

•              His unfinished magnus opus on Hieronymus Bosch

•              Calas across and against the grain: affiliations and genealogies from St Paul to the Beats

•              Calas and the baroque


Regarding Nicolas Calas is organised by Mata Dimakopoulou, (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), Vassiliki Kolocotroni, (University of Glasgow), Irini Marinaki, (Phd in Art History, Τhe London Consortium, University of London), Tereza Papamichali, (Phd candidate in Fine Art, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw), Konstantinos Stefanis, (Phd in Art History, Τhe London Consortium, University of London), Vassilis Vlastaras (Athens School of Fine Arts)