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Assigning Cultural Values

Edited By Kjerstin Aukrust

Assigning Cultural Values is a collection of thirteen essays focusing on the analysis of cultural value in light of aestheticization or aesthetic practices. Reflecting the fruits of the Research Council of Norway’s comprehensive programme for cultural research (KULVER), this anthology studies cultural phenomena not as static dimensions, but rather as factors involved in negotiations and exchanges. By examining the processes in which aestheticization is prominent, the contributors show how the experience-based, relational, and perceptual aspects of assigning cultural values come into focus. Each of the essays offers unique perspectives on the value given to different cultural phenomena, by focusing on their historically changeable aspects, their reciprocal relationships, and their connection to social contexts and power. Drawing on case studies from the fields of cultural history, aesthetics, literature, film, gender studies, art history and theory, design history, and museology, the collection provides a wide-ranging and multifaceted analysis of how the assignment of cultural values is changed, displaced, transferred, and acquired, and will therefore interest all researchers and students within the field of humanities.

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Part 4:The Aesthetics of Places

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Part 4: The Aesthetics of Places 209 The King’s Road: Constructing the Modern Landscape Mari Hvattum, Brita Brenna, Torild Gjesvik, and Janike Kampevold Larsen In Oslo’s royal palace hangs a series of 21 paintings by the Norwegian painter Jacob Munch (1776-1839). Most of the motifs were commissioned by King Carl Johan immediately after his coronation in 1818; they present more or less con- vincing landscapes, real and ideal. Several show Norwegian fjords and mountain views, including a prospect of the capital, Christiania (Figure 10.1), while others depict various European landscapes.1 The motifs are hardly remarkable. Munch borrowed well-established techniques and themes from contemporary European landscape painting, combining them with a competent but in no way original hand. One aspect stands out in these otherwise conventional landscapes, however, namely the large and surprisingly sophisticated road works dominating the picto- rial space in several of the paintings. These roads are clearly more than a conven- tional pictorial device. Beautiful and well built, they criss-cross valleys and hill- sides; their solid retaining walls seem to defy the surrounding wilderness. On the broad, gravel road surface we see people and carriages, tiny against the impressive roadscape. Despite the dramatic mountains in the background, the spectator gets a sense of being on a French chaussée rather than on a dirt road in Norway. What is going on? Little is known about Carl Johan’s commission. But even if we cannot identify all the depicted places or know exactly who selected the motifs, Munch’s land- scapes...

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