- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-6436-0
- Pages: 264
- Price: £85.00
- Published Date: December 2023
- Series: Rethinking Art's Histories
Transcultural things examines four sets of artefacts from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: maps pointing to Poland-Lithuania's roots in the supposedly 'Oriental' land of Sarmatia, portrayals of fashions that purport to trace Polish culture back to a distant and revered past, Ottomanesque costumes worn by Polish ambassadors and carpets labelled as Polish despite their foreign provenance.
These examples of invented tradition borrowed from abroad played a significant role in narrating and visualising the cultural landscape of Polish-Lithuanian elites. But while modern scholarship defines these objects as exemplars of national heritage, early modern beholders treated them with more flexibility, seeing no contradiction in framing material things as local cultural forms while simultaneously acknowledging their foreign derivation.
The book reveals how artefacts began to signify as vernacular idioms in the first place, often through obscuring their non-local origin and tainting subsequent discussions of the imagined purity of national culture as a result.
'Debates over originality and cultural distinctness have been studied outside art history for more than forty years, yet have still barely made a dent in the national culture model of the discipline. Grusiecki's intervention is especially welcome for its nuanced critical framing and the depth of his knowledge of a rich body of material evidence.'
Claire Farago, Professor Emerita, University of Colorado Boulder
Introduction: between worlds
1 Where is Sarmatia?
2 How do you dress like a Pole?
3 Who speaks for Poland?
4 Where do Polish carpets come from?
Epilogue: beyond the binary
Tomasz Grusiecki is Associate Professor of Early Modern European Art and Material Cultures at Boise State University