“The Impressionist Instant and the Poetics of the Schedule”
Abstract: This lecture will consider the historical conjunction between the industrialization of time and Impressionism, the artistic style that made time and especially the instant its pivot. In particular, I will analyze the so-called “unification of time” in the 1870s to 1890s—the synchronization, standardization, and commercialization of precise time that marked the era—and the pressures it put on the speeds of modern depiction. Claude Monet at the Gare Saint-Lazare—one of the crucial sites of this transformation—will be the focus.
Bio: André Dombrowski’s research centers on the arts and material cultures of France and Germany in the mid to late nineteenth century, with an emphasis on the histories of science, politics, and psychology. He is particularly concerned with the social and intellectual rationales behind the emergence of avant-garde painting in the 1860s and 1870s, including Impressionism. Winner of the Phillips Book Prize from the Center for the Study of Modern Art at the Phillips Collection, he is author of Cézanne, Murder, and Modern Life (University of California Press, 2013). The book analyzes Cézanne’s early scenes of murder and sexual violence through the lens of pre-Freudian definitions of desire and instinct. He has started two new projects: one shorter book on the relation between Impressionism and the history of modern time-keeping (chapters will focus, for instance, on “reaction time” and the birth of Impressionism, or the advent of “universal time” in 1884 and its relationship to the serried order of Seurat’s pointillist technique); and a longer study that will situate the innovations of Édouard Manet’s major 1860s paintings within the Second Empire’s political and juridical cultures.