Posts Tagged ‘Baudelaire’

Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie

April 12, 2008

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