Margareta Ingrid Christian - "Objects in Air: Artworks and Their Outside around 1900" - Catriona MacLeod

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Margareta Ingrid Christian

Margareta Ingrid Christian will discuss Objects in Air: Artworks and Their Outside around 1900. She will be joined in conversation with Catriona MacLeod.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Press

Virtual event


About the book: Margareta Ingrid Christian unpacks the ways in which, around 1900, art scholars, critics, and choreographers wrote about the artwork as an actual object in real time and space, surrounded and fluently connected to the viewer through the very air we breathe. Christian explores how the artwork’s external space was seen to work as an aesthetic category in its own right, beginning with Rainer Maria Rilke’s observation that Rodin’s sculpture “exhales an atmosphere” and that Cezanne’s colors create “a calm, silken air” that pervades the empty rooms where the paintings are exhibited. Writers created an early theory of unbounded form that described what Christian calls an artwork’s ecstasis or its ability to stray outside its limits and engender its own space. Objects viewed in this perspective complicate the now-fashionable discourse of empathy aesthetics, the attention to self-projecting subjects, and the idea of the modernist self-contained artwork. For example, Christian invites us to historicize the immersive spatial installations and “environments” that have arisen since the 1960s and to consider their origins in turn-of-the-twentieth-century aesthetics. Throughout this beautifully written work, Christian offers ways for us to rethink entrenched narratives of aesthetics and modernism and to revisit alternatives.

About the author: Margareta Ingrid Christian is assistant professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. She has published articles in a range of contributed volumes and journals, among them PMLAGerman Studies Review, and History of Photography.

About the interlocutor: Catriona MacLeod works in the area of German eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, aesthetics, and the visual arts and is Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the College and the Department of Germanic Studies. She is the author of Fugitive Objects: Literature and Sculpture in the German Nineteenth Century, which was awarded the Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize for best book in Romanticism Studies as well as Embodying Ambiguity: Androgyny and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Keller.

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