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OSK/Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of 19th Century Art: The Grotesque in Late Nineteenth-Century Art by Prof. Frances Connelly (University of Missouri)
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May 1 till July 1, 2018

Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art


The Grotesque in Late Nineteenth-Century Art



Deadline for application: December 17th, 2017.

Course load: 6 ECTS.

For RMA students from universities other than the UvA, participation for credit via the OSK is also be possible, in consultation with the supervising lecturer (see below).


From 3-8 June 2018 MA students in Art History and related fields will have the opportunity to participate in the annual Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar, sponsored by the Van Gogh Museum and the University of Amsterdam.


The aim of the Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth-Century Art seminar is to provide MA students with the opportunity to study a single yet wide-ranging subject in nineteenth-century art through an intensive one-week workshop taught by a leading scholar in the field and supported by the Van Gogh Museum. The seminar will introduce students to important issues in the study of nineteenth-century art and provide an impulse for further research. Its aim is to encourage interest in various aspects of the discipline, and to provide students not only with factual information, but more importantly with new methodological and theoretical perspectives on this important period in the history of art.


This year’s Visiting Fellow is Prof. Frances Connelly of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Her research focus is modern European art, with a particular interest in the intersection of art history and anthropology. She has published two books on the grotesque: The Grotesque in Western Art and Culture: The Image at Play (2012) and Modern Art and the Grotesque (2003), as well as essays for exhibitions on this topic for the Museo Picasso Málaga, the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, and the Neue Galerie, New York. Other publications focus on the phenomenon of primitivism, including The Sleep of Reason: Primitivism in Modern European Art and Aesthetics, 1725-1907 (1995). Her research has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Mellon Foundation.


The grotesque plays an outsized role in modern and contemporary art, and finds especially fertile ground in the artistic movements of the late nineteenth century. The monstrous, uncanny, abject, aberrant: all find new expression in the fin-de-siècle. To be sure, the expressive range in this period is striking, easily demonstrated by comparing the hybrid creatures imagined by Redon with those of Böcklin, the distorted bodies of Rodin with those of Beardsley, or the cadaverous crowds of Munch with the satirical masquerades of Ensor. The enthusiastic assimilation of Japanese imagery spurred even bolder experimentation in the realm of the grotesque for many artists, including van Gogh. This seminar will explore the workings of the grotesque in this unsettled and unsettling period and explore why it is a particularly powerful means to grapple with its social upheavals and cultural shifts. 


The seminar will consist of three sessions of three hours each, plus an afternoon excursion to the exhibition Van Gogh and Japan. A public introductory lecture will take place at the Van Gogh Museum on Sunday, 3 June. The seminar meetings will take place at the Van Gogh Museum (Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Friday from 1-4 p.m. Exact location to be announced.) The date and time of the excursion will be announced before the start of the seminar.


Students will be supplied with the themes of the sessions and a list of readings in advance (mid-January). These will introduce the material and issues of the seminar and are required.


Extra information

OSK RMA students can participate in the seminar for 6 ECTS by following a group tutorial during the second semester. The tutorial generally meets three times before the seminar; a research paper is due towards the end of June. Details of the tutorial and supervision will be announced in January.

Auditors (students from universities other than the UvA and professionals) are also welcome.


Interested? Contact Dr. Rachel Esner: r.esner@uva.nl for more information (please put “VGM Visiting Fellow” in the subject line). Deadline for application: December 17th, 2017. Please state clearly that you are an OSK-student.

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