The Hand of the Engraver: Albert Flocon Meets Gaston Bachelard

SUNY Press
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 A rich intellectual encounter, revolving around the hands of the experimenter and those of the artist, highlighting the relation between the sciences and the arts.
This book is the first to explore in detail the encounter between Albert Flocon and Gaston Bachelard in postwar Paris. Bachelard was a philosopher and historian of science who was also involved in literary studies and poetics. Flocon was a student of the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, who specialized in copper engraving. Both deeply ingrained in the surrealist avant-garde movements, each acted at the frontiers of their respective métiers in exploring uncharted territory. Bachelard experienced the sciences of his time as constantly undergoing radical changes, and he wanted to create a historical epistemology that would live up to this experience. He saw the elementary gesture of the copper engraver—the hand of the engraver—as meeting the challenge of resistant and resilient matter in an exemplary fashion. Flocon was fascinated by Bachelard’s unconventional approach to the sciences and his poetics. Together, their relationship interrogated and celebrated the interplay of hand and matter as it occurs in poetic writing, in the art of engraving, and in scientific experimentation. In the form of a double biography, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger succeeds in writing a lucid intellectual history and at the same time presents a fascinating illustrated reading of Flocon’s copper engravings.

“Rheinberger is one of the premier scholars of the world in his fields, and an acknowledged expert on Bachelard. Though the book is exceptionally short, there is a wealth of learning and scholarship packed into it. The author is intimately familiar with all of the literature on the subjects he discusses, and master of the relevant primary sources and documents relating to Bachelard and Flocon. I was utterly charmed and captivated by this book, continually spurred on to read and think more.” — James J. Bono, author of The Word of God and the Languages of Man: Interpreting Nature in Early Modern Science and Medicine: Ficino to Descartes
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About the author

 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger is Director Emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany. Kate Sturge is a translator and editor based in Berlin, Germany, and Visiting Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at Aston University, United Kingdom.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Dec 1, 2018
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Pages
126
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ISBN
9781438472126
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Prints
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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An Epistemology of the Concrete brings together case studies and theoretical reflections on the history and epistemology of the life sciences by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, one of the world’s foremost philosophers of science. In these essays, he examines the history of experiments, concepts, model organisms, instruments, and the gamut of epistemological, institutional, political, and social factors that determine the actual course of the development of knowledge. Building on ideas from his influential book Toward a History of Epistemic Things, Rheinberger first considers ways of historicizing scientific knowledge, and then explores different configurations of genetic experimentation in the first half of the twentieth century and the interaction between apparatuses, experiments, and concept formation in molecular biology in the second half of the twentieth century. He delves into fundamental epistemological issues bearing on the relationship between instruments and objects of knowledge, laboratory preparations as a special class of epistemic objects, and the note-taking and write-up techniques used in research labs. He takes up topics ranging from the French “historical epistemologists” Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem to the liquid scintillation counter, a radioactivity measuring device that became a crucial tool for molecular biology and biomedicine in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout An Epistemology of the Concrete, Rheinberger shows how assemblages—historical conjunctures—set the conditions for the emergence of epistemic novelty, and he conveys the fascination of scientific things: those organisms, spaces, apparatuses, and techniques that are transformed by research and that transform research in turn.
Told with consummate skill by the writer of the bestselling, award-winning A Civil Action, The Lost Painting is a remarkable synthesis of history and detective story. 

An Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.

The artist was Caravaggio, a master of the Italian Baroque. He was a genius, a revolutionary painter, and a man beset by personal demons. Four hundred years ago, he drank and brawled in the taverns and streets of Rome, moving from one rooming house to another, constantly in and out of jail, all the while painting works of transcendent emotional and visual power. He rose from obscurity to fame and wealth, but success didn’t alter his violent temperament. His rage finally led him to commit murder, forcing him to flee Rome a hunted man. He died young, alone, and under strange circumstances.

Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today. Many others–no one knows the precise number–have been lost to time. Somewhere, surely, a masterpiece lies forgotten in a storeroom, or in a small parish church, or hanging above a fireplace, mistaken for a mere copy.

Prizewinning author Jonathan Harr embarks on an spellbinding journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christ–its mysterious fate and the circumstances of its disappearance have captivated Caravaggio devotees for years. After Francesca Cappelletti stumbles across a clue in that dusty archive, she tracks the painting across a continent and hundreds of years of history. But it is not until she meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland, that she finally manages to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle.

Praise for The Lost Painting

“Jonathan Harr has gone to the trouble of writing what will probably be a bestseller . . . rich and wonderful. . . . In truth, the book reads better than a thriller. . . . If you're a sucker for Rome, and for dusk . . . [you'll] enjoy Harr's more clearly reported details about life in the city.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Jonathan Harr has taken the story of the lost painting, and woven from it a deeply moving narrative about history, art and taste—and about the greed, envy, covetousness and professional jealousy of people who fall prey to obsession. It is as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to read.”—The Economist
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