Surprises. Fragonard and Temporality

Surprises. Fragonard and Temporality  | Events Calendar
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund 1974

With Satish Padiyar

Upper E Side

The Institute of Fine Arts at NYU | 1 E 78th St.

Satish Padiyar, Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century European Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art; Visiting Scholar, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

Arguably, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was a painter who was at odds with late-eighteenth-century bourgeois notions of progressive time and the Enlightenment concept of historical and material progress. I will be asking, how does this artist mark time, and what is the time and the timing of his quasi-expressionist marks?

In an oeuvre eminently about love, it is the particular moment of ‘surprise’ that Fragonard obsessively returns to: a moment of temporal suspense in which the human subject is taken by storm and which resurrects a quasi-infantile sense of un-control and openness to the unexpected. Through the “spontaneous gesture” (Winnicott), Fragonard seeks to throw the subject outside the received norms of time and social courtesies. The surprise attack characterizes both his technical audacity and his psychology of love, corporeal attraction and violence.

Satish Padiyar is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts, and Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century European Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art.