Anne Lafont

Art historian

Fall 2021, Spring 2022

Anne Lafont

Ashley Week

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“This historical inquiry rests on the notion of exceptionality; it is based on two singular, emblematic destinies of an American history in which the French experience is Black.”

Having studied art history in Canada, France, and Italy, I taught at the university level before becoming a researcher at the French National institute for Art History (INHA) for ten years. My work focused on the way art history is constructed as a discipline, and a comparison between its ideological foundations and those of European nations, from Napoleon to the interwar period. This research into the political dimension of art history led to two lines of inquiry. The first, based on the resources and questioning specific to gender studies, materialized in a collective publication, Plumes et pinceaux. Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe (1750-1850). The second, focusing on the relationship between art and knowledge during the Enlightenment, gave rise to an exhibition and a catalog, 1740, un abrégé du monde.


As an extension of this collective work in critical historiography, I became editor-in-chief of Perspective, the research journal of INHA. I carried on my work in periodicals such as Critique, Gradhiva, and Esprit. These spaces are very important in my reflections as they stimulate fundamental, often solitary, research.


Since 2017, I have been working at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS); the highlight of my activities is the research seminar with young researchers and fellow historians. It covers two major subjects: the visual construction of race in modern times, and the development of African art in discourse and practice since the 17th century. My research is rooted in epistemological reflection on this strange discipline that is art history (its particular resources, fundamental principles, and uncommon and unconventional aspects) and on visual worlds in their diversity (from masterpieces to graphic arts) in regard to what they produce about the self and the “other” in all aspects of our lives.


Anne Lafont is an art historian, professor, and research director at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). She studied in Canada and France as well as at the Villa Medici in Rome. Her latest publication, “L’Art et la race. L’Africain (tout) contre l’œil des Lumières” won the Prix Fetkann! Maryse Condé award for research and the 2020 Prix Vitale and Arnold Blokh. She also works with museums and was a contributor to the “Le Modèle noir de Géricault à Matisse” exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in 2019.


In partnership with

centre pompidou
Centre Pompidou

Since 1977, the Centre Pompidou has presented a rich programme at the crossroads between different art forms and audiences. Its iconic building is home to one of the world's largest modern and contemporary art collections, in addition to exhibitions, symposiums, festivals, shows, projections, and workshops for young audiences, making it an unparalleled cultural institution, deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of Paris and open to the world and to new innovation. 


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