Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie


Anthony Cunha

Mariko Mori, Tea Ceremony III, 1995, Laminated crystal print, 48 x 60 x 2 1/2 inches.  Collection of Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton, Santa Monica, CA, Photo: Anthony Cunha.

Steeped as we are in our field of clinical pharmacology, it was a literary colleague who, upon hearing our reports of the emerging drug’s discovery, directed our attention towards the analogy of the 19th century flâneur. So, upon further investigation the word became the hallmark of the drug’s title. Our favorite descriptive passages come from the French poet Charles Baudelaire’s essays in “The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays.” Baudelaire summarizes the flâneur as a “gentleman stroller of city streets.” However, successive authors, artists and critics such as Edgar Allen Poe, Walter Benjamin, Situationists and Susan Sontag have helped us understand that the idea is much more complex and pervasive in our modern life. 

Little did we know that the idea itself might be considered “dandy” nowadays. We hope that we were not lead by a turtle, as some flâneur’s were rumored to do!  

An example of this currency is an exhibition that we thought we would bring to your attention before it closes soon on April 13. It is itself an opportunity to be a flâneur of the museum (another sociological spin-off!) and a list of well-known artists more or less related to the topic. Our favorite inspiration is Francis Alÿs. Person of the Crowd is curated by Thom Collins, Director and on view from January 20-April 13, 2008. Neuberger Museum of Art, SUNY Purchase, Purchase NY

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2 Responses to “Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie”

  1. SL New Design Pills are IN « Virta-Flaneurazine Says:

    […] forth along them repeatedly (See figure 2 below). While this shows a consistency with aspects flâneurism such as window shopping or voyeurism,  it will also lead to less adventurous walks which are also […]

  2. European Market Potential « Virta-Flaneurazine Says:

    […] Judging from a rather extensive  reaction in Europe to the launch of the Virta-Flaneurazine in September of 2009, it seems to be the case that in the United States, few people wander without purpose or objectives, with the possible exception of George W. Bush. Now that the election is behind us, we might see if the Obama Administration creates different atmosphere. Will people consider other modes of living other than the straight line to cash or overworked economic productivity? Of course Europe has a long-standing tradition of considering a wider view of living and enjoying life. Paris is of the quintessential site of wanderment and the 19th-century flâneur:  […]

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