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Kasper Lægring

Postdoc

Kasper Lægring

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My postdoctoral project, Dutch and Danish Golden Age genre painting – a question of empathy? (2021–24), concerns the status and nature of genre painting. It will be carried out in collaboration with The Nivaagaard Collection, a small museum north of Copenhagen, as the project is meant to reactivate the collection in new ways and aims to contribute substantially to the ongoing rediscovery of forgotten or neglected artists, genres and themes from the Danish Golden Age. My research question reads as follows: Why has Dutch Golden Age genre painting retained its popularity and esteem in art historical discourse, while Danish Golden Age genre painting quickly went out of fashion and fell from grace, becoming reduced to an aesthetic of kitschy, formulaic sentimentalism? How did the best-selling genre painters of the Danish Golden Age vanish from art history, leaving us with a skewed and distorted impression of what was actually in demand during that period? The Danish genre painter frequently looked to Dutch examples for inspiration, and the two countries are culturally comparable, yet the results of the two schools of painting have met very different fates. By using methods derived from the theory of empathy (Einfühlung), my project seeks to investigate genre painting in the context of the experience of modernity. By implication, my investigation also activates questions of iconography, narratology and reception theory.

My previous research projects have mainly dealt with architectural theory, history and criticism. I have explored research fields such as architecture and collective memory, meaning in architecture, questions of representation in architecture and the relationship between architecture and management culture. More specifically, what has emerged as the leitmotif of this dimension of my research is an interest in the predicament of the discipline of architecture under modernity.

My prize dissertation (also my Master’s thesis), Commemorative strategies in Berlin: An inquiry into the mnemonic dimension of architecture (2007), presented the thesis that a turn from the hermeneutic to the phenomenological had taken place in the design of contemporary monuments and museums. I traced this development from Schinkel’s Altes Museum and Mies van der Rohe’s November Revolution Monument to Libeskind’s Jewish Museum Berlin and Eisenman’s Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe. My study was awarded the Gold Medal of the University of Copenhagen.

My doctoral dissertation bears the (long) title: When exemplification takes over: An aesthetic study of commonalities in Modern Movement architecture, viewed in light of the critique of Modernism and analysed with the aid of Nelson Goodman’s theory of symbols (2019). With this project, I set out to explain why modern architecture was put on trial in the 1960s and 1970s, where commentators and critics such as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Charles Jencks and Peter Blake in their various ways criticised modern architecture for being incomprehensible, ill-adapted to context and culturally alienating. This project, which was my contribution to a renewed interest in Goodmanian aesthetics, has so far spawned several articles and conference papers.

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