French Beaux-Arts Migrations to the Americas (SAH 2023 Montréal) [call for papers : abstracts before June 7th]
From Montreal to Santiago de Chile, the Western hemisphere has hosted French-born architects trained at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts. A pioneer was Grandjean de Montigny: from 1816 to 1850, this Rome Prize winner helped Brazilian taste shift from Spanish Baroque to Classicism. As designers, educators, planning consultants, professional and cultural stewards, several generations of Frenchmen helped shape Eurocentric societies; those leaving major brick-and-mortar traces are better remembered than consultants or collaborators, such as Maxime Roisin in Mexico and Quebec.
In Latin America, French-born architects contributed to nation-building through legislative palaces and courthouses; their townhouses and theaters materialized the rise of a Francophile elite; their commercial structures eased processes of modernization in a global economy. In the United States, seeking Gallic talent focused on design instructors or deluxe draftsmen, recruited on the strength of their École transcripts and comradeship. Rather modest in numerical terms, this mosaic of migrations – accidental or strategic, temporary or permanent, successful adaptations or overambitious failures, marked by Gallic charm or arrogance – is greater than the sum of its parts and must be contextualized in terms of pro-French geopolitics, Beaux-Arts supply and local demand.
Focusing on French citizens who passed the École entrance examination before 1940 and experienced immersive expatriation, we seek thematic rather than monographic inquiries, comparative studies across countries and time periods, and approaches which move away from the “Beaux-Arts style” label and challenge the idea that no technical or social progressivism could be gained from studying in Paris.