Bridget Alsdorf specializes in European art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on art produced in France. Her work often explores visual art’s intersections with literature, philosophy, and social psychology.
Alsdorf 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 the work of Courbet, Manet, Degas, Bazille, Renoir and (most extensively) Fantin-Latour. Through close readings of some of the most ambitious paintings of the realist and impressionist generation, the book demonstrates the importance of association as a defining subject of modern art. Alsdorf has also published essays on Bonnard, Cézanne, Gaillard, Hammershøi, Manet, Poussin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Utrillo, and Vallotton, and is on the editorial board of nonsite.org. Her research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program, the Luce Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also worked at a number of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Alsdorf’s current book project, Gawkers: Art and Audience in Fin-de-siècle France, focuses on representations of crowds and theatrical audiences, with particular attention to the cultural phenomenon of gawking (badauderie) and the relationship between art and emerging fields of social psychology. The book focuses on a group of innovative painters, printmakers, and filmmakers – including Vallotton, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Lumière brothers – who placed the passive, susceptible vision of gawkers (badauds) center-stage, unseating the flâneur as the modern subject par excellence. She is also collaborating with Todd Cronan on a translation of the philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s Écrits sur l’art, and is preparing two essays: one on Vallotton’s political caricatures for the avant-garde magazine La Revue blanche, and another on Bonnard’s illustrations to Verlaine’s book of Sapphic love poems, Parallèlement, 1900.
Alsdorf is an associated faculty member in the Department of French & Italian, and teaches for the Program in Humanistic Studies. She received Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in the Humanities in 2018.