Bridget Alsdorf

Position
Professor of Art and Archaeology
Office Phone
Office Hours

On Leave: AY 2023–24

Bio/Description

Profile

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 Caillebotte, Cézanne, Gaillard, Hammershøi and Kierkegaard, P.S. and Marie Krøyer, 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: Love and Collaboration in Modern Scandinavian Art, is informed by the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Chapters explore painting, photography, and silent film during and after “the modern breakthrough,” centering on couples who made artworks together: 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 a Guggenheim Fellowship (2023) and by fellowships from 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, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. She has worked at a number of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

At Princeton, she is an Old Dominion Research Professor in the Humanities Council, 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.

Teaching Interests

Professor Alsdorf teaches courses on European art from the seventeenth 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; gender and feminism; and new directions in the field. All courses take advantage of area museums and campus collections.

Education

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008

Selected Publications

“Painting in Common.” In Mette Bøgh Jensen et al., Marie Krøyer (Copenhagen: The Hirschsprung Collection, 2023). 62–87.

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).

Field(s)
19th-Century European Art
European Art, 17th to 20th century
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Art & Archaeology
Department of French & Italian
Humanities Council
Program in Gender & Sexuality Studies