A Session of Disciplinary ‘Fusion’
Exploring the Interaction of Time and Space in Modern Art
Often met with suspicion, practices of ‘fusion’ between neighbouring disciplines simultaneously build on and reinforce complementarities between them. I argue that the key advantage of identifying and exploring such complementarities is the opportunity for improved understanding of the interaction of time and space in the history of art – i.e. how temporal tendencies unfold across geographical space. New digital sources of information on artistic careers, museum and personal collections or important sales make it possible to chart the mobility of people, artworks and concepts across time and space. A combination of computer algorithms, sociological methods and historical data provide opportunities to address substantive questions in the history of art, to identify patterns and resolve controversies. As an example of synergies in data collection and analysis between sociological and historical research, I analyse data on the students of Antoine Bourdelle. Results expose the interaction between centrality and two types of marginality, based on gender and the country of origin, and that between mobility of artists and the fragmentation of the field, as key factors in the acceleration of innovation at that time.