Prof. Dr. Kerstin Thomas
Art history, Stuttgart

Contact Details

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Thomas
University of Stuttgart
Institute of art history
Keplerstraße 17
70174 Stuttgart

Phone: 0049 711 685-83918
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Biographical Note

Since 2010, Kerstin Thomas is director of the Emmy Noether Research group "Form und Emotion. Affektive Strukturen in der Französischen Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts und ihre soziale Geltung" at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. She did her PhD at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt with a dissertation on mood in paintings of the late 19th century. She was lecturer at the German Centre for the History of Art in Paris (Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art). Currently she is working on a habilitation on the notion of form in American art theory of the 20th century. She published a number of articles on pictorial strategies of daydreaming.

Hypnagogical images: daydreams in French Art of the 19th century

Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury who is thanks to his 1861 publication Le sommeil et les rêves a pioneer of empirical orientated dream research, published in 1848 a study dedicated to the phenomenon of daydreaming, calling it “hypnagogia”. Maury describes hypnagogia as a state of conscience dominated by intense visual sensations mixed with thought, concepts and feelings. The theories of Maury became widely popular and were adopted by artists and writers. Dreaming as a sujet for painting is well known and it usually shows the dreamer and his or her nightly chimera. But since the middle of the 19th century, new artistic strategies emerged favouring more experimental images, in which perception and imagination are blended into one another in sceneries full of affective expression. This project focuses on works of artists such as Camille Corot, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul Gauguin, and aims to explore the interdependence between these images and the contemporary scientific discourse on daydreams, and their mutual epistemic function.