“Sex and Electricity: Edvard Munch at the Window” Hollis Clayson (Art History, Northwestern University)

Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 3:30pm

402 Claudia Cohen Hall


“Sex and Electricity: Edvard Munch at the Window”

Hollis Clayson

Professor of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University

E. Munch Kiss at the Window


(E. Munch, Kiss by the Window, 1892, Oslo, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design)

Clayson's lecture will discuss Munch's threshold pictures, made in France between 1890 and 1897. Their key ingredients are recurrent nighttime settings, intense "threshold people," and modern éclairage. Three distinct clusters comprise the series. One set of especially moody pictures features a top-hatted man. In another, a standing woman gazes determinedly but furtively out a windowed opening. A final grouping breaks the segregation by sex by deploying a male-female couple conjoined in a besotted kiss.  Across Munch's window pictures, the artificial light outside is the focus of a drive to narrative density.  Night light is either the object of longing or a technologized metaphor for erotic entanglement.

(including a response by Alison Chang, Dept. of the History of Art, UPenn)

Co-sponsored by the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies; the Depts. of History and Sociology of Science and the History of Art, as well as the Program in Visual Studies, University of Pennsylvania

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