Is there such a thing as ‘European’ art? Do we have ‘European’ artists? I am inclined to deny that, as we are all still too locked up in our national identities. On the other hand, European history shows a melting pot of cultures and arts, that already started under the Greek and Roman civilisations. Through the centuries, artists travelled through Europe to learn from each other, long before the so called modern states came to exist. Artists and philosophers influenced each other tremendously. Paris has been breeding ground and exchange forum throughout the 20th century for many artists, as was Berlin or Amsterdam to some extent. Indeed, the arts refused to respect national frontiers. Van Gogh may be considered to be Dutch, mostly working in France, but he is honoured by all Europeans. The Dutch author Pieter Steinz assembled an impressive book entitled ‘Made in Europe’, presenting about a 100 ‘icon’ art works, that together present convincing proof of a ‘Pan-European culture’. Not only ‘high arts’ but also popular art forms like the mini skirt or football….. Yes, European arts were already there long before the European Union came into existence.
Fortunately, nowadays there is an intensive European cooperation between museums, and a whole range of international events for film, literature, poetry, pop music and so forth. We’d better forget our tiny nationalities and present ourselves as European artists only…..