top of page

PD Dr. Mateusz Kapustka

Research Interests:

Visual media and production of historical evidence, anachronism of images, images and liturgy, visual cultures of knowledge (15th-18th c.), textile representation, medieval and early modern images as instruments of power


PD Dr. Mateusz Kapustka: Privatdozent at the University of Zurich (UZH); in 1993-1998 he studied Art History and Philosophy at the University of Wrocław (Poland), where he also received his PhD in 2004 (published in 2008 as Figure and Host. On the Visual Evocation of Presence in Late Middle Ages, in Polish) and in 1998-2013 worked as Assistant Professor. In 2009-2017 Post-Doc Assistant at the Institute of Art History of the University of Zurich (UZH) and co-ordinator of the ERC/SNF TEXTILE Research Project (UZH in cooperation with HU Berlin and KHI Florence MPI); in 2013 Getty Connecting Art Histories Visiting Faculty Member at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil (Unifesp) within the project „New Art Histories: Connecting Ideas, Objects and Institutions in Latin America“. In 2016 he made his habilitation at the UZH (in print as Abwesenheit der Idole. Bildkonflikte und Anachronismen in der Frühen Neuzeit, 2019). Interim Professorships for the Medieval Art History at the University of Zurich (2015-2016) and at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main (2017-2018).

Project Abstract

Anachronism – Perspectives of Art History

The project is devoted to the anachronistic politics of time control, which was expressed in the Early Modern Period (15th-18th c.) in visual claims to the Late Antique, Early Christian and Medieval past. As a historiographically recurring leitmotif, the pictorial topos of the destruction of Greek and Roman idols is examined. In this context, in which the historiographic link between anachronism and antagonism becomes clear, the first Christian ruler Constantine the Great as the destroyer of all idols in the Roman Empire in 313 was elevated to a historiographical figure of the founder of the centralized state and the exclusive cult, both justified teleologically and theologically. The leading question here is to what extent the Early Modern discourse on the Christian Antiquity and on the Early Middle Ages, cultivated as heroic epochs of the destruction of ‚paganism’, was possible thanks to the control upon images as instruments of social exclusion. Repetition, polarization and convergence of various typological pictorial patterns prove in this context to be the means of historical fictionalisation for the purpose of dynastic and ecclesiastical succession. Christian images were thus restrained as tools of legitimacy and were supposed to help shaping a soteriologically normative future policy. Therefore, the subject oscillates at the same time around the chronotopic conditions for the Early Modern idea of progress. The project claims that it was sustainably based on Late Antique patrological apologetics and matched with the Early Medieval pictorial patterns of Christian sovereignty, which were incorporated in the 16th c. into the apotheosis of absolutist imperial rule and into the propaganda of missionary expansion as dispositives of the Baroque discourse on modernity. On the basis of these historical studies, the project raises questions about pictorial violence as a narrative pre-conditioning for art- and image-historical approach to the topic of formal anachronism.

Selected Publications

Mateusz Kapustka , Abwesenheit der Idole. Bildkonflikte und Anachronismen in der Frühen Neuzeit, Böhlau: Wien-Köln-Weimar 2019 (in print), 590 pp.


Mateusz Kapustka, Figure and Host. On the visual Evocation of Presence in Late Middle Ages (Figura i hostia. O obrazowym przywoływaniu obecności w późnym średniowieczu, in Polish), WUWr.: Wrocław 2008, 372 pp.


Mateusz Kapustka (ed.), Bild-Riss: Textile Öffnungen im ästhetischen Diskurs, Imorde: Emsdetten-Berlin 2015, 216 pp.


Mateusz Kapustka, Mission Antarktis. Die vormoderne Sichtbarmachung der Welt als Problem einer historischen Kritik von Bildkulturen, in: Antonio Lucci, Thomas Skowronek (eds.), Potenzial regieren. Zur Genealogie des möglichen Menschen, Fink: München 2018, p. 137-156


Mateusz Kapustka, Liturgies of the Void: Seeing Objects as Images, in: Ullrich Grossmann, Petra Krutisch (eds.), The Challenge of the Object / Die Herausforderung des Objekts, Proceedings of the 33rd CIHA Congress, vol. 1-3, GNM: Nürnberg 2014, p. 73-76

News Articles

Thank You for Another Successful Year

February 23, 2023

Chronoi Events

Chronoi Talks

February 23, 2023

Add a Title

February 23, 2023

bottom of page