The legacy of José-Augusto França for the writing of History of Art in Portugal: critical characterization of the canon and of examples of his persistence
Keywords:Portugal, Art History, José Augusto-França
José-Augusto França was the most important art historian in Portugal in the XXth century and was responsible for establishing a historiographic canon for the portuguese XIXth and XXth century art history. Working both as art critic and art historian José-Augusto França promoted a narrative based on the sociology of art learned with Pierre Francastel, with whom he studied in Paris, which eventually promoted the surrealist and abstraccionist art he defended as a critic. This narrative elected Paris as an artistic and cultural role model and constantly decreted a portuguese delay in face of that model. Although some of the later art historians tried to criticize França’s approach to art history, he nevertheless kept being a major reference to later generations of art historians and his cronologies, historic concepts and extensive inventories of facts were never fully questioned and were used as sources for later art history work. This kind of art history still defends the idea of a canon in the art history discourse, and feeling unable to produce a new one, it insists on the old one. This article aims to contribute for the critical and historic analysis of José-Augusto França’s canon and legacy, approaching briefly two examples as case-studies from the subsequent generation of art historians of the XXth century.