Bridget Alsdorf specializes in European art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with particular interest in art’s intersections with literature, philosophy, and social theory.
She is the author of Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting (2012), a study of the fraught dynamic between individual and group in some of the most ambitious paintings of the realist and impressionist generation, including works by Courbet, Manet, Degas, Bazille, Renoir and (most extensively) Fantin-Latour. A second book, Gawkers: Art and Audience in Late Nineteenth-Century France (2022), explores how Vallotton, Bonnard, the Lumière brothers, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others represented the seductions and horrors of urban life through the eyes of curious viewers known as badauds. Positioning these gawkers as the flip side of the singular and aloof bourgeois flâneur, the book excavates a subject of deep significance in late nineteenth-century French culture, as a motif in works of art and as a conflicted model of the modern viewer.
Alsdorf has published essays on Cézanne, Gaillard, Hammershøi and Kierkegaard, Manet, Poussin, Tissot, Utrillo, Vallotton and Fénéon. She also serves on the editorial board of nonsite.org, where she co-edits a series of issues on 19th-century art. Her current projects include Shadowed: Intimacy and Collaboration in Modern Scandinavian Art, a study of Scandinavian painting, photography, and silent film during and after "the modern breakthrough" informed by the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Chapters focus on Vilhelm and Ida Hammershøi, Anna and Michael Ancher, P.S. and Marie Krøyer, Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg, Asta Nielsen and Urban Gad. Also in progress is an essay on Bonnard’s illustrations to Verlaine’s scandalous book of poems, Parallèlement (1900), and several translation projects, including the translation of Lacoue-Labarthe's writings on art.
Alsdorf’s research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program, the Luce Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has worked at a number of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
At Princeton she is a Faculty Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts; an associated faculty member in the Department of French & Italian, the Program for Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Program in Media + Modernity; and she teaches for the Programs in Humanistic Studies and European Cultural Studies. She received Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in the Humanities in 2018.