Humanities Lab, American University, February 2nd, 2018.
"When physicists think about touch, they are aware that molecules between skin prevent actual contact. In this talk, renowned art historian Professor Susan Sidlauskas, considers how John Singer Sargent turns to skin to push the conceptual limits of form and touch. Sidlauskas' work in progress, John Singer Sargent and the Physics of Touch, presents a new framework for a painter who is generally beloved by curators and the public, but comparatively neglected by ambitious modernists within the academy. The book argues that Sargent was far more than a chronicler of the Gilded Age upper classes at their most intemperate. In his most ambitious later portraits, he wielded the material of paint as energetically and inventively as any avant-garde painter of the early 20th century. Through a series of case studies, I make the case that Sargent belongs not only to the history of modernism, from which he is often exiled, but to the cultural history of science."
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