Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flanerie
Neuberger Museum of Art
Curated by Thom Collins, Director
January 20-April 13, 2008
In 1840, Edgar Allan Poe published the seminal short story “The Man of the Crowd.” In it, he introduced a character that would become one of the central tropes of literary and artistic modernism: the flâneur (stroller), who is the participant-observer of the industrial revolution. This character takes to the streets, wandering far and wide, gathering clues to the essence of the modern city by observing its physical fabric and its inhabitants and their public activities. Poe’s man of the crowd was the inspiration for Charles Baudelaire’s “The Painter of Modern Life,” the essay that heralded the arrival of the quintessential artist-flâneurs—the French Impressionists.
This exhibition surveys recent multimedia art created by artists who work in the way first described by Poe and codified by Baudelaire. They join street life in order to make art about postmodern cities around the world and the people who inhabit them.