Sensing the Present: “Conceptual Art of the Senses”

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Abstract

After Rachel E. Burke briefly introduces the essays presented with a focus on our contemporary relationship to modern subjectivity, Mieke Bal will make the case for the sense of presentness on an affective and sensuous level in Munch’s paintings and Flaubert’s writing by selecting a few topics and cases from the book Emma and Edvard Looking Sideways: Loneliness and the Cinematic, published by the Munch Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Emma & Edvard. It is this foregrounded presentness that not only produces the ongoing thematic relevance of these works, but more importantly, the sense-based conceptualism that declares art and life tightly bound together. If neither artist eliminated figuration in favour of abstraction, they had a good reason for that. Art is not a representation of life, but belongs to it, illuminates it and helps us cope with it by sharpening our senses. As an example, a few paintings will clarify what I mean by the noun-qualifier “cinematic” and how that aesthetic explains the production of loneliness.

Works cited

  • Bal, Mieke. Emma and Edvard Looking Sideways: Loneliness and the Cinematic. Oslo: Munch Museum; Brussels: Mercatorfonds; Yale UP, 2017. Print.

  • Bal, Mieke. Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto: The U of Toronto P, 2001. Print.

  • Berman, Patricia G. “Scratching the Surface: On and In Self Portrait (1895).” Kunst og Kultur 1–2 (2017): 75–95. Print.

  • Culler, Jonathan. Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty. Aurora, CO: Davies Group, 1974. Print.

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  • Itten, Johannes. The Elements of Color: A Treatise of the Color System of Johannes Itten, Based on His Book “The Art of Color.” Ed. Faber Birren. Trans. Ernst van Hagen. Chichester: Wiley, 1970. Print.

  • LaCapra, Dominic. Madame Bovary on Trial. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1982. Print.

  • Lowenthal, David. The Past is a Foreign Country. New York: Cambridge UP, 1985. Print.

  • Owesen, Ingeborg. “Edvard Munch Between Gender, Love, and Women’s Rights.” Edvard Munch: 1863–1944. Ed. Mai Britt Guleng, Brigitte Sauge and Jon-Ove Steihaug. Oslo: Munch Museet; Milano: Skira Editore, 2013. 296–305. Print.

  • Prelinger, Elizabeth. After the Scream: The Late Paintings of Edvard Munch. Atlanta, GA: High Museum of Art in association with Yale UP, 2002. Print.

  • Schor, Naomi, and Henry F. Majewski, eds. Flaubert and Postmodernism. Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska P, 1984. Print.

  • Tøjner, Poul Erik. Munch in His Own Words. Munich: Prestel, 2001. Print.

Text Matters

A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture; The Journal of University of Lodz

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