The Theodor-Fischer Award 2018 awarded to Dr. Elena Chestnova
Institutional Communication Service
19 July 2018
The Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, an independent research institute for art history in Munich, has awarded the 2018 Theodor Fischer Award for emerging scholars to Dr. Elena Chestnova of the USI Institute for History and Theory of Art and Architecture. The prize consists of a scholarship awarded annually since 2002.
Dr. Chestnova received the award for her PhD dissertation "History in things: Gottfried Semper and popularization of the arts in London 1850-55". The thesis examines the period of time that the German architect and historian spent in London, and how this has contributed to the development of his theoretical conceptions of art. The work analyses the role of material artefacts in Semper's intellectual production and proposes "popular art" as a phenomenon that explains how such artefacts were conceived and contested as sites of knowledge in society.
“I am honoured to receive this recognition from the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte” – emphasized Dr. Elena Chestnova – “an Institute that houses one of the most important collections of books and other documents on art history in the world, which makes it a pre-eminent location for conducting art historical research. It is my intention to use the fellowship to begin preliminary investigations for a new research project, which will be concerned with popular knowledge transfer in the arts and identity construction in the nineteenth century.”
The award-winning thesis is part of a larger research project carried out by the
Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture in collaboration with the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at the ETH Zurich, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and supervised by Prof. Sonja Hildebrand. “It fills me with pride – stated the Professor - to see how the quality of the work of our young researcher has not gone unnoticed by one of the most important institutions in our field. This award is to be considered as an implicit recognition of our Institute’s approach, which takes into consideration not only the material, political and social context of the built environment, but also the cultural and philosophical background in which artworks are created”.