Universiteit Leiden

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Caroline Gräfin von Courten

External PhD

Dr. C.J.V. Gräfin von Courten MA
+31 71 527 2727


Photographs & Preservation: New Challenges for Understanding the Lives of Photo-Works 

For Art History the  photo-works offer a particularly challenging corpus of works. Because of the different materials added and/or unconventional techniques applied, specific characteristics of photography, such as its indexical quality and reproducibility, have changed in the juxtaposition with other materials. In contrast, the material aspect of the works and their singularity is emphasized. What, in the understanding of artworks, is the significance of the unusual superposition of another medium to the photograph and its subsequent aging and differential material changes? 

This research will help to develop a  Decision-Making Model to understand the relationship between the  photo-work’s meaning and the changes in its physical and material features in different concrete contexts, combined with the knowledge from chemical analysis and conservation science. 

NWO research project  Science4Arts 

My PhD research is one of the three sub-projects of the NWO-funded Science4Arts-project Photographs & Preservation. How to save photographic works of art for the future?.The other two sub-projects are taking place at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Organic Chemistry & Catalysis, Utrecht University.


Curriculum vitae

Caroline von Courten (1983, Germany) graduated in 2008 at the Leiden University (Master Photographic Studies) with a master thesis on blurriness in contemporary photography, relating theoretical reflections on photography to cultural-philosophical notions about indeterminacy. Soon after she worked as assistant curator of photography at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and later became exhibition project manager at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. In 2010 Caroline co-curated and organized the satellite exhibition  QUICKSCAN NL New Photography from the Netherlands commissioned by the Nederlands Fotomuseum at the Dutch Culture Center in Shanghai, affiliated to the World Expo. Meanwhile she was at the core of shaping and producing the annual Dutch Doc Award for Dutch documentary photography - an initiative of the FondsBKVB. 

Before starting her academic research in June 2012, Caroline acted as managing editor for six issues of  Foam International Photography Magazine, the quarterly published magazine owned by Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam and Vandejong Communications.


Key publications

‘En Route’ - on the usage and implications of Google Street View in relation to photography In:  Objects in Mirror - The Imagination of the American Landscape ( and , Amsterdam, 2012) 

‘Paulien Oltheten’ In:  Foam International Photography Magazine: What’s Next?, 2011, no. 29 

‘Determination’ - on the work of Paulien Oltheten and Raymond Taudin Chabot In:  Off the Wall (FW:, Amsterdam, 2009)

External PhD

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • KG Moderne beeldende kunst

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden



No relevant ancillary activities

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