19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 5 (2007)

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Curating Gothic Nightmares

Heather Tilley

Abstract


This review takes the occasion of a workshop given by Martin Myrone, curator of Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake, and the Romantic Imagination (Tate Britain, 2006) as a starting point to reflect on the practice of curating, and its relation to questions of the verbal and the visual in contemporary art historical practice. The exhibition prompted an engagement with questions of the genre of Gothic, through a dramatic display of the differences between ‘the Gothic' in literature and ‘the Gothic' in the visual arts within eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century culture. I also address the various ways in which 'the Gothic' was interpreted and reinscribed by visitors, especially those who dressed up for the exhibition. Finally, I consider some of the show's ‘marginalia' (specifically the catalogue), exploring the ways in which these extra events and texts shaped, and continue to shape, the cultural effect of the exhibition.

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