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Culinary Metaphor, Materiality, and Constructions of Gender in French Painting and Art Criticism, 1865-1890

Deutsch, A; (2016) Culinary Metaphor, Materiality, and Constructions of Gender in French Painting and Art Criticism, 1865-1890. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

By the mid-nineteenth century, Parisian art criticism was saturated with culinary metaphors used alternatively to describe figures within paintings (usually female), to characterize the appearance of paint, or to refer to a painter’s process. These three purposes were linked, and the foods chosen as analogues for paint and for figures were aligned with certain constructions of femininity. To date, these examples of commentators lingering upon their multi-sensory responses to paint material and painted subjects, and drawing attention to the artist’s attempts to capture senses other than vision, have received very little attention from art historians. But these responses enable a radical rethinking of the perceived ocular basis and bias of self-consciously modern painters and their critics in later nineteenth-century France. References to gustatory taste in art criticism point to a gastronomic culture in artistic and literary communities that is not so easily separable from discourses of aesthetic taste. The migrating language of cuisine contributes to an understanding of the visceral effects of the material, facture, and technique of specific works, and appears in some of the most widely studied critical texts of the period. The model of embodied spectatorship that it raises, which returns a body vulnerable to desire and disgust to the “detached” connoisseur, destabilizes established art historical readings of that criticism and the paintings that it described. As viewing was positioned as analogous to ingestion, with concomitant dangers or benefits to the body, the fiction of aesthetic detachment (with the flanêur as its avatar) broke down. Because gender was the base upon which comparisons to the culinary were most often elaborated, interrogating these analogies provides a fresh lens through which to investigate nineteenth-century constructions of gender and the gendering of sensory experience, as well as offers an alternative framework through which to examine painting itself.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Culinary Metaphor, Materiality, and Constructions of Gender in French Painting and Art Criticism, 1865-1890
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1522000
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