Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008
Bridget Alsdorf specializes in European art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with particular interest in art’s intersections with literature, philosophy, and social theory.
She is the author of Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting (2012), a study of the fraught dynamic between individual and group in some of the most ambitious paintings of the realist and impressionist generation, including works by Courbet, Manet, Degas, Bazille, Renoir and (most extensively) Fantin-Latour. A second book, Gawkers: Art and Audience in Late Nineteenth-Century France (2022), explores how painters, printmakers, and filmmakers including Angrand, Bonnard, Carrière, Daumier, Degas, Gérôme, the Lumière brothers, Toulouse-Lautrec, and (especially) Vallotton represented the seductions, horrors, and banalities of urban life through the eyes of curious viewers known as badauds. Positioning these gawkers as the flip side of the singular and aloof bourgeois flâneur, the book excavates a subject of deep significance in late nineteenth-century French culture, as a motif in works of art and as a conflicted model of the modern viewer.
Alsdorf has published essays on Cézanne, Gaillard, Hammershøi and Kierkegaard, Manet, Poussin, Tissot, Utrillo, Vallotton and Fénéon. She also serves on the editorial board of nonsite.org, where she co-edits a series of issues on 19th-century art. Her current book project, Shadowed: Intimacy and Collaboration in Modern Scandinavian Art, draws on Kierkegaard’s philosophy to examine partnership, collaboration, and enclosure in Scandinavian painting, photography, and silent film during and after “the modern breakthrough,” with chapters focusing on Vilhelm and Ida Hammershøi, Anna and Michael Ancher, P.S. and Marie Krøyer, Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg, Asta Nielsen and Urban Gad. She is also preparing an essay on Bonnard’s illustrations to Verlaine’s book of Sapphic love poems, Parallèlement (1900), and several translation projects.
Alsdorf’s research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program, the Luce Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has worked at a number of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
At Princeton she is a Faculty Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, an associated faculty member in the Department of French & Italian, the Program for Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Program in Media + Modernity, and teaches for the Programs in Humanistic Studies and European Cultural Studies. She received Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in the Humanities in 2018.
Professor Alsdorf teaches courses on European art from the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. Her seminars have addressed the convergence of art, philosophy, and social theory; word and image studies; the cross-fertilization of painting and the novel; historical relationships between painting, print culture, and film; methodology; and new directions in the field. All courses take advantage of area museums and campus collections.
Gawkers: Art and Audience in Late Nineteenth-Century France. Princeton University Press, 2022.
“Vallotton, Fénéon, and the Legacy of the Commune in Fin-de-siècle France.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 49.3–4 (Spring 2021).
“Les badauds à la baraque de La Goulue,” in Toulouse-Lautrec: Résolument moderne. Réunion des musées nationaux, 2019.
“Manet’s Fleurs du mal,” in Manet and Modern Beauty—The Artist’s Last Years. Getty Publications, 2019.
“Painting the Femme Peintre,” in Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900. Yale University Press, 2017.
“Hammershøi’s Either/Or.” Critical Inquiry 42.2 (Winter 2016).
“Félix Vallotton’s Murderous Life.” The Art Bulletin 97.2 (June 2015).
“Bonnard’s Sidewalk Theater.” nonsite 14 (Winter 2014/2015).
“Cyprien Gaillard: Blowing Off Steam.” Parkett 94 (June 2014).
Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting. Princeton University Press, 2012, ©2013.
“Interior Landscapes: Metaphor and Meaning in Cézanne's Late Still Lifes.” Word & Image 26.4 (Oct. 2010).
“Pleasure’s Poise: Classicism and Baroque Allegory in Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time.” The Seventeenth Century 23.2 (Oct. 2008).