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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Christian Krohg's Naturalism: Painting in the Light of Émile Zola's Méthode Expérimental

Awarded: NOK 2.7 mill.

This project will investigate how Zola's naturalistic ideas were integrated into a painterly program by Christian Krohg (1852-1925) and how a naturalistic discourse was created in Scandinavian art in the 1880s. I claim that Krohg?s naturalism must be unde rstood as an art inspired by Zola and his ideas about the experimental novel - which again is inspired by Claude Bernard. This project intends to read relevant contemporary theory on art, science, and philosophy (Taine, Comte, Bernard, Brandes, etc.), nat uralistic literature, and art criticism alongside Krohg?s naturalistic artworks. The goal is to place Krohg?s art within a larger intellectual context and to dig more deeply into the painting?s semantic field. I will emphasize three points in my discussio n of naturalism as a discursive aesthetic (this aesthetic is different from other parts of Krohg?s art: a figural aesthetic akin to realism and impressionism. This must be discussed): 1. Naturalism is first and foremost a literary program (the visual co ntrolled by a literary project): Is naturalism at its core a text/image-issue? 2. The naturalistic artwork is an experiment (the visual is controlled by a scientific project): Does the naturalistic artwork function as a protocol? 3. The aesthetic of natur alism is deterministic (the visual is controlled by a necessary narrative structure): Does a deterministic narrativity inhabit naturalistic artworks (a narrativity specific to naturalism)? An important goal for this project is twofold: to ensure that the nineteenth-century fine art painting of Scandinavia takes its rightful place within the international art historical discourse and to examine Norwegian painting within an international context. A secondary ambition is to map out a naturalistic aesthetic in painting. Most of the naturalism research in nineteenth-century studies has thus far focused narrowly on literature and theatre. In art historical research, realism and impressionism has overshadowed naturalism.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam