As a consequence of the dynamics of cultural and social change, disciplines which deal with the arts, in particular the history of art and musicology as well as theatre and media studies, are facing a variety of new challenges. What matters now is less the emergence of a new avant-garde or artistic advances, but a dramatic shift in the perspectives and contexts in which these arts flourish. An altered awareness has not only brought about a broadening of the range of images that is studied, but also shifted attention to processes of artistic exchange extending beyond the European canon of art. Conventional methods and strategies of interpretation have been called into question and a reassessment of approaches is required.

This can be illustrated using the example of the image, which is also the theme of another project area supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation: As a result of the electronic revolution, the image has become a universal medium of information, understanding and knowledge that can hardly be assigned to any single discipline. The focus has shifted to its instrumental function, which can no longer be grasped within the traditional methods of art history. The continuation of familiar scholarly processes would result in blotting out current problems, while new opportunities and challenges would be missed. The disciplines that address visual phenomena are thus as a whole called upon to spell out more precisely their own contribution to the polyphonic choir of interventions.

The Fritz Thyssen Stiftung supports projects from all areas of the arts and neighbouring fields, but particularly those that deal with theoretical questions and foundational sources, with methodological issues, clarification of important categories and interdisciplinary research - in short, with scholarly investigations characterised by problem-awareness and a high level of reflection. The Foundation does not assign priority to supporting projects which centre on cataloguing or on new editions.