Constructing the Viennese Modern Body : Art, Hysteria, and the Puppet book cover
1st Edition

Constructing the Viennese Modern Body
Art, Hysteria, and the Puppet

ISBN 9780367736187
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

This book takes a new, interdisciplinary approach to analyzing modern Viennese visual culture, one informed by Austro-German theater, contemporary medical treatises centered on hysteria, and an original examination of dramatic gestures in expressionist artworks. It centers on the following question: How and to what end was the human body discussed, portrayed, and utilized as an aesthetic metaphor in turn-of-the-century Vienna? By scrutinizing theatrically “hysterical” performances, avant-garde puppet plays, and images created by Oskar Kokoschka, Koloman Moser, Egon Schiele and others, Nathan J. Timpano discusses how Viennese artists favored the pathological or puppet-like body as their contribution to European modernism.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Plates


Introduction: A Conundrum of the Viennese Modern Body

1 “The Semblance of Things”: Re-Visioning Viennese Expressionism

2 “The Woman Emerges”: Medical Vision and the Spectacle of Hysteria

3 Performing Hysteria: A Vogue for Hystero-Theatrical Gestures

4 A Tale of Three Hysterics: Elektra, Isolde, and Salome

5 The Inanimate Body Speaks: The Language of the Marionette Theater

6 Pathological Puppets: The Body and the Marionette in Viennese Expressionism


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Nathan J. Timpano is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami.


"I cannot begin to do justice to this book in this brief review. As a lay reader interested in gender, sexuality, and the history of the body, I approached the book with great curiosity and I was not disappointed."
-- German Studies Review

"Alongside all of the quickly and superficially produced publications on Viennese modernism, Timpano's book pleasantly stands out - as a very serious study written with a highly scientific ethos."

-- Journal of Art Historiography

"Timpano writes with confidence and authority on art history…[his] perspective on some of the better known developments in twentieth-century European puppetry will be of interest to readers."

-- Puppetry International