Art exhibitions of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe series of art exhibitions began in 1954 with the aim to increase knowledge and appreciation of European art as one of the highest expressions of Europe's culture and common values. Over almost half a century the series has succeeded in illustrating most of the great epochs or the contributions of great personalities who left an indelible mark on their time. The Council of Europe has recently reviewed its Exhibitions concept and is also launching a Cultural Events series.
A new thematic approach: culture as a vector of values and citizenship
For 50 years, Council of Europe Art Exhibitions have been illustrating the major historical movements, figures and events that have marked the history of European art: their main message being Europe and its unity.
Today, the Council of Europe priorities have shifted towards safeguarding European values. Democracy, human rights, respect for difference and diversity may need to be embedded in public institutions and policies but their ultimate strength depends on how firmly they are rooted in people’s minds.
Council of Europe Exhibitions and Cultural Events should contribute to the organisation’s wider social and political aims while at the same time retaining the excellence, scholarship, integrity and power
of the previous exhibitions. Exhibitions and Cultural Events could be conceived around themes such as climate change; intercultural dialogue and the image of the other; human rights vs. the death penalty, migration, the rejection of violence, non-discrimination, the common history of Europe and its neighbours, the influence of Islam on European thought (and vice-versa).
A pro-active approach
In the past, the Council of Europe has been receiving and assessing, together with a high-level group of consultants, exhibition projects conceived by a relatively small number of major European cultural institutions, and offering a label and a modest financial support to the best projects (29 since 1954).
While making sure that the exhibition themes complied with its quality standards, the Council of Europe did not actively seek or provoke specific exhibition projects on particular themes, or suggest priorities in order to extend the geographical scope of the projects and facilitate new partnerships.
The new approach suggests the active involvement of the Council of Europe in selecting, advising and promoting Exhibitions and Cultural Events, which represent wider thematic, geographical and curatorial interests.