Delaware graduate student Margarita Karasoulas is the curator of
“Electric Paris,” an art exhibition that a recent New York Times article
said “examines the City of Light through the lens of nighttime
illumination … as gaslight supplanted oil lamps, and electric lighting
Encompassing about 50 works — paintings, drawings, prints and
photographs — from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the
exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, runs through Sept. 4.
Karasoulas, a doctoral candidate in UD’s Department of Art History, said the show focuses on the “often overlooked role” that artificial lighting played in works by artists of the time.
“Scholars have tended to focus on how the Impressionists and their
contemporaries investigated the effects of natural light, and
specifically the color and atmospheric effects of sunlight,” she said.
“This exhibition focuses instead on artificial lighting, and how
nocturnal brightness came to be seen as the defining feature of the city’s technological modernity.”
The show is organized in sections, showing nighttime outdoor
settings, indoor scenes in both private homes and in such entertainment
venues as cabarets and dance halls, and scenes focused on the various
types of street lighting that Karasoulas said defined Paris as a modern
She described the exhibition as fundamentally about technological
change, as methods of artificial lighting improved and expanded, and how
art and culture reflected that change. For everyday residents, she
said, the introduction of gas and electric lighting transformed Paris
and other cities.
Karasoulas, who is planning for a career as a curator in museums, was
working in the Bruce Museum in 2012-13 as the Zvi Grunberg Resident
Fellow. Before leaving to enroll in UD’s doctoral program, she and the
museum’s deputy director, Susan Ball, came up with the idea for
The exhibition is an expanded version of one organized at the Clark
Art Institute in 2013 by S. Hollis Clayson, who served as adviser to the
current show at the Bruce.
“Electric Paris” includes works by Edgar Degas, Henri de
Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Charles Courtney
Curran and many more French, American and other European artists.
A related exhibit in the museum’s Science Gallery focuses on electricity.