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JAMES ELKINS
at the National Gallery

‘Encounters: Writers on Writing about Art’ series.
6th July 2012

Elkins is an Art Historian who wrote Pictures and Tears.
2 ways of approaching art in the 20th century. Affect theory & Academic.
Academic/emotionless art of 20th century.
Growing literature on affect theory.

Presently reading Knausgaard-Karl-Ove-My-Struggle
Refers to V1 (2012) p2014-205

Considers affect theory as an antidote to the dryness of poststructuralism.

Refers to other books:

Jill Bennett – Empathetic Vision
James Thompson – Performance Affects: Applied Theatre and the End of Effect
Brian Massumi – Parables for the Virtual

Eve Melzter – Beyond the aesthetic and the anti-aesthetic (2010)
Mary Kelly’s Anti aesthetic projects
Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Series in Affective Science)
Jaak Panks (Polemic)

Immersion – forget and enter into the artwork.
Absorption – Michael Fried
Theatrical v antitheatrical tradition

Innerlichkeit (inwardness) thoughtful, pensive.

The Germans and their art a troubled relationship
Absorption came out of German romantic tradition.

Einfuhlung (empathy)
Transhistorical and universal

Spectacles
Hypnotic, spellbinding
Immersive
Dioramas ( Mark Dion art)
Computer games
Wii
Imax
3-D Movies
Hollywood movies

Chardi n’s soap bubbles x 2 characters absorbed therefore so is viewer

Jeromes Duel after the Masked Ball

People crying in front of Albers.

The Artist is present Abramovic

Naming encounters – works in progress

Things to do when visiting an art gallery:

• Avoid wall labels

• Give object a long time

• Go alone

• Go to lit galleries – 1 object

• Return

Galleries may not encourage these sorts of encounters.

Construction of Romanticism

Rothko & Newman
Stand close
Crying tragedy despair

Exception Rothko chapel – immersive

Self reflexivity =modernism??
(Greenberg & pm Krauss)

Pictures and Tears History of people who have cried
In front of paintings.

Crying is rarely solipsistic, not any more so than laughing,

Weeping Madonna look at over long periods.

Infinity of weeping

Feast in the House of Simon El Greco = impossible to write about

The dangerous landscape = Caspar David Friedrich.

Joseph Koerner (about Friedrich)

Ecstasy of St Francis on Google

If you read too much in it spoils things

Weeping Madonna endless narrative

El Greco – can’t put in to words

Friedrich not solipsistic

Bellini – Art history spoils

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