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Doing Research Surrounded by Museums

Basel offers ideal conditions for studying art history: In one of the richest museum landscapes in Europe, the discipline provides a distinctly art-oriented education, and it is here where Eikones is located, the Center for the Theory and History of the Image.

Prof. Ralph Ubl
Special concerns of Ubl are the international networking of his subject and the cooperation with the Basel museums. © University of Basel

Director of Eikones is Prof. Ralph Ubl, a specialist in modern art history. The Austrian art historian has been a professor at the University of Basel since 2010, where he was already holder of the Laurenz professorship for contemporary art from 2003 to 2006.
Ubl had studied art history and philosophy in Vienna and then continued his research in Bologna, Rome and Paris. After completing his doctorate, he worked as a research assistant at the Berlin University of the Arts and as a lecturer at the Hangzhou Academy of Art in the People's Republic of China. After the Laurenz professorship, he worked first as a professor at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe, then in the USA as a visiting professor at the Humanities Center of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and as a professor at the University of Chicago.

Ubl is especially interested in the international cross-linkage within his field and the collaboration with the museums in Basel. This includes working with the Schaulager as well as with the Academy of Art and Design of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and other higher education institutions. Ubl deals mainly with art and art theory after 1800, image theory questions, the dialog between various art forms, the theory and history of the drawing as well as the relationship between art and political theory in the modern age. He has authored numerous publications on the interactions between modern painting and photography, collage and film. He has devoted particular attention to the study of French Romanticism and Surrealism in American and European post-war art.

Ubl is involved in the Sinergia project Media of Exactitude  funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The interdisciplinary research project with its members from art and economic history, literature and media studies is based at the Universities of Basel and Zurich and analyzes the historical development, theoretical shaping and practical impact of those procedures, which, under the measure of accuracy beyond the natural sciences, shape the acquisition of knowledge in artistic, social science and humanities contexts.

Power and Meaning of Images

The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) «Iconic Criticism – The Power and Meaning of Images» with Basel as Leading House was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with around CHF 19 million from 2005-2017 and will continue as eikones – Center for the Theory and History of the Image. This is where image-related scientific cooperation between researchers, programs and faculties at the University of Basel is promoted and maintained. Inter- and transdisciplinary research is conducted in national and international research projects, colloquia and conferences. The Eikones center maintains close relations and research collaborations with the  Kunstmuseum Basel and Schaulager.

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