0309 Staging and Displaying Colonialism

Art, Artifacts and Consumerism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

  • Melanie Ulz (Author)

    Melanie Ulz is an art historian with a focus on transcultural art history from the 18th to the 21st century. She is currently a substitute professor for historical image studies at the University of Regensburg. From 2010 to 2016 she was a junior professor at the University of Osnabrück. She earned her PhD in 2005 from the University of Trier with a thesis on the depiction of the Egyptian campaign in French history painting (Auf dem Schlachtfeld des Empire. Männlichkeitskonzepte in der Bildproduktion zu Napoleons Ägyptenfeldzug, Weimar 2008). Since 2014 she has been a member of the research network "Art Production and Art Theory in the Age of Global Migration". Her research ranges from battle painting, the visual history of slavery, or the museumization of classical African art to the visualization of migration.

Identifiers (Article)


The article examines the aesthetic staging and displaying of non-European art, particularly African art and culture, common at international world’s fairs at the turn of the century. As examples serve the Brussels International Exposition of 1897 and the Paris Colonial Exposition of 1931. The use of ornament, once of Art Nouveau and once of Art Deco, as a design feature, unite both exhibitions. This article examines two interrelated areas. One is the relationship between the aesthetic staging and displaying of African art and the perception and appreciation of non-European art within the burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement. The second is between this aesthetic staging and consumerism from 1900 onwards, which was increasingly marked by exoticism.


Exposition internationale de Bruxelles 1897, Exposition coloniale internationale Paris 1931, aesthetic staging, consumerism, exoticism