The Resonant Object: A Symposium to Honor Charles W. Haxthausen

The Resonant Object: A Symposium to Honor Charles W. Haxthausen


May 18, 2018

5:30 PM-7:00 PM


225 South St
Williamstown, MA 01267

Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History, Emeritus, Charles W. (Mark) Haxthausen presents, "The Cathedral of Cinema: Fritz Lang's Metropolis."

From Wilhelm Worringer's Form in Gothic (1911) to Walter Gropius's “Bauhaus Proclamation” (1919), the Gothic cathedral was a central trope of the ‘expressionist’ movement in the visual arts. For many German artists and intellectuals of this era the cathedral signified not only a lost social and cultural harmony that they longed to restore, but also an integration of the fine and applied arts with architecture in the service of collective belief. These ideas also had currency among certain members of the German film industry during the 1920s. The Gothic cathedral in Fritz Lang’s futuristic film Metropolis (1927) is arguably the richest example of the adoption of this expressionist myth in Weimar cinema. In this paper I argue that in Metropolis Lang emblematically uses the cathedral not only as the site for the film’s naïve message of social reconciliation, but also to suggest that film, rather than traditional visual media, was now the most effective medium for realizing the expressionist agenda of artistic, cultural, and social reintegration. 

Mark Haxthausen received his B.A. degree from the University of St. Thomas (Houston) and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. After teaching at Indiana University, Harvard University (where he was also curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum), and the University of Minnesota, he joined the Williams faculty in 1993, serving as director of the Graduate Program until 2007. His teaching focuses on European modern and contemporary art and on art-historical method. He is editor of The Two Art Histories: The Museum and the University (2002) and co-editor of Berlin: Culture and Metropolis (1990). Current research interests include: the theory and criticism of Carl Einstein; the Bauhaus; Ernst Ludwig Kirchner; Paul Klee; Sigmar Polke; and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.


Saturday, May 19


Lisa Saltzman, Starr Director, Research and Academic Program

9:30 am: SESSION I

Robin Schuldenfrei ’00, “Moholy-Nagy and Architecture’s Material Abstraction”
Rebecca Uchill ’05, “What Matters”

10:30 am: BREAK

11:00 am: SESSION II

Joshua O’Driscoll ’07, “Inventing Abstraction: circa 950”
Graham Bader ’95, “Collage and Care”
Kristina Van Dyke ’99, “The Object of Art History in Oral Cultures”

12:30 pm: BREAK

1:45 pm: SESSION III

Scott Allan ’99, “‘A Course of Discoveries’: Théodore Rousseau at the Getty”
Robert Slifkin ’02, “On Dennis Oppenheim’s Marionette Theater”

2:45 pm: BREAK


Victoria Sancho Lobis ’02, “The Multiple Contexts for Colonial Latin American Art”
David Breslin ’04, “No Unconsciousness”
De-Nin Lee ’95, “Resonant Landscapes”
Ellery Foutch ’03, “The Resonance of ‘Non-Art’ Objects”
Andrea Gyorody ’09, “Reviving Hannah Wilke’s Homage to a Large Red Lipstick


Sponsored by the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art

Image: Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986), Felt Suit, 1970. Wool felt with ink stamp. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, The Willy and Charlotte Reber Collection, Patrons of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Fund, 1995.231.A-B. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn