Dr Mechthild Fend
18th- and 19th-century French visual culture and art theory
Mechthild Fend graduated with an MA in Art History in 1988. From 1983 to 1993 she also worked as a free lance in the educational department of the Museum for art and crafts in Hamburg. She completed her PhD with the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt in 1998, where she was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow in a research group concerned with psychological and psychoanalytical approaches in art history. She had a Getty postdoctoral fellowship in 2000/2001 and was a research scholar at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin from 2001-2005. She spend year as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton before joining the UCL History of Art Department in 2006. Her research has focused on issues of gender, the history and representation of the body, art and science as well as the historiography of art history. The volume 'Männlichkeit im Blick. Visuelle Inszenierungen seit der frühen Neuzeit' (Köln: Böhlau, 2004), co-edited with Marianne Koos, is a collection of essays that look at the representation of masculinity from Donatello’s David to contemporary performance art. The monograph that developed from her dissertation 'Grenzen der Männlichkeit. Der Androgyn in der französischen Kunst und Kunsttheorie 1750-1830' (Berlin: Reimer, 2003) studies androgynous masculinities in the period of the French Revolution focussing on artists such as Jacques-Louis David and Anne-Louis Girodet. A French translation 'Les limites de la masculinité' was published with La Decouverte in autumn 2011.
'Les limites de la masculinité' has been reviewed in
- Le Monde 17. Nov. 2011
- Mediapart.fr 11. Nov. 2011
- /liens socio/ lectures, Dec. 2011
- Histara. Les comptes rendues, Feb. 2012
A radio conversation on the book and on 'Androgyny' was held at
An interview was conducted with the magazine Tétu, Dec. 2011
Her current research project deals with the history and representation of skin in French 18th- and 19th-century art. Her book entitled 'Fleshing out Surfaces. Skin in French art and medicine, 1650-1860' is under contract with Manchester University Press. Further publications related to that topic include the essay 'Bodily and Pictorial Surfaces: Skin in French Art and Medicine, 1790-1860'. In: Art History 28, 2005, pp. 311-339, and a book co-edited with Daniela Bohde: 'Weder Haut noch Fleisch. Das Inkarnat in der Kunstgeschichte', (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2007). This book is the first systematic study on fleshtones in art, spanning from the gradual introduction of oil paint in the times of Van Eyck to the silk-screens by Andy Warhol. The eight essays consider the ways in which artists used colour and other materials to render skin, explore a range of art theoretical reflections on the visual representation of skin or flesh and link this to issues of the history of the body. She has recently also worked on medical illustrations of skin and skin diseases, in particular in dermatological atlases and wax moulages.
Together with Petra Lange-Berndt she is running the AHRC Research Network
'The Culture of Preservation. The afterlife of specimens since the 18th century'.
Mechthild Fend is interested in supervising PhD students in the research areas sketched above.
Current PhD students:
Gemma Angel: Preserving Skin. The collection and preparation of tattoos in late nineteenth-century France (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award)
Meghan Gilbride: Memory Migrations. Visualising personal narratives of political conflict and exile in animated film
Recent articles and reviews include:
'Toile nerveuse. Rendre la peau dans les Portraits de fantaisie de Fragonard'. In: Cultures de cour – cultures du corps, Catherine Lanoë, Matieu da Vinha et Bruono Laurioux (eds.), Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2011, pp. 169-184.
'Haut wie weicher Marmor. Die Frauenporträts von Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres'. In Ähnlichkeit und Entstellung, Oliver Jehle, Sabine Slanina (eds.), Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2010, pp. 95-112.
'Emblems of Durability. Preserves, Tattoos and Photographs'. In Performance Research, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2009. Special Issue: Transplantations, eds. Ric Allsopp and Phillip Warnell, pp. 45-52.
'Bodily and Pictorial Surfaces: Skin in French Art and Medicine, 1790-1860'. In Art History 28, 2005, pp. 311-339.
Book review of Melanie
Ulz: 'Auf dem Schlachtfeld des Empire'. In Sehepunkte 9,
2009, Nr. 6.
Book review of Todd Porterfield and Susan L. Siegfried: ,Staging Empire: Napoleon, Ingres, and David'. In Art Bulletin 40, June 2008, pp. 298-300.
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