Alessandra RONETTI

Alessandra Ronetti is an Art historian, specialist in colour studies. She holds a PhD in Art history, awarded with honours by University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa) in 2019.


She is President of the Research Association IMAGO – Cultures visuelles (ED441) and Associate Member of the Research Centre Histoire culturelle et sociale des arts (HiCSA) at University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She was Visiting Researcher and Adjunct Professor at New York University in 2016 and then Temporary Lecturer and Research Fellow at University Paris 1 (2017-2020). She was Investigator of two interdisciplinary team projects: Imaginary media (INHA, 2018-2019) and Techno-images (University Paris 1, University Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, Campus Condorcet, 2018-2019).

Her research has been focusing primarily on 19th and early 20th century colour visual culture, adopting an interdisciplinary approach combining the methods of art history, visual studies, history of psychology, and media archaeology. In 2020, The Sorbonne University’s Research Committee awarded her doctoral thesis Chromomentalism. Colour psychologies and visual cultures in France (1870-1914) with a prize for the best dissertation in Art history. This dissertation focused on the artistic and visual impact of colour psychology, especially the way colour was employed historically to affect the sensory and bodily experience of the spectator. She studied how colour was classified, thought, and experienced, in relation to its mental and psychological power, on a wide range of cultural and social practices, involving the history of colour perception, such as visual and performing arts, popular and scientific imagery, urban and consumer culture, colour media.
Her research interest is currently related to the historical and epistemological links between colour in modern art’s practices and discourses in early 20th century and the experimentations in the history of chromotherapy. She is also studying the history of Infrared and Ultraviolet visual culture (from 1800 to today).

Role within Chromotope

She is Research Fellow in the history of sciences and techniques at Sorbonne Université and the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) in Paris. She will work on the 19th century colour archives (1850-1920) of the CNAM. She will study the way the new synthetic colours were experienced and their dissemination through scientific popularisation, consumer culture, especially the fashion world. She will co-organise a research seminar on the arts and crafts of colour in 19th century Europe.


Selected publications

  • « Voir violet. Les limites du visible et la violettomanie des impressionnistes », Histoire de l’art, 88, 2021, dossier : Limites et pratiques de l’art (matérialités et objets / processus et réception), forthcoming 2021.

  • « Chromo-culture. Les danses de la nature de Loïe Fuller et la force énergétique de la lumière », Romantisme, dossier: Chorégraphies. Institutions, pratiques et représentations, edited by Guy Ducrey, 3, 193, 2021, pp. 72-83.

  • « Psychotechniques de la couleur. Publicité expérimentale et attention visuelle en France autour de 1900 », HISTO.ART, dossier: Mind Control. Art expérimental et techniques de conditionnement mental (XIXème-XXème siècles), edited by Pascal Rousseau, 10, 2019, pp. 27-46.

  • « Chromo-hypnose. Les pratiques de suggestion mentale dans Le peintre néo-impressionniste (1910) d’Émile Cohl », Immagine, dossier: Cinema, dream and hallucination from the origins to the early twenties (1895-1925), edited by Mireille Berton and Silvio Alovisio, XVIII, October-November 2018, pp. 91-116.

  • « Beyond Human Vision. Towards an Archeology of Infrared Images », NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies, dossier: Resolution, by Francesco Casetti and Antonio Somaini, VII, 1, Spring 2018, pp. 185-215 (co-written with Federico Pierotti).

  • « La “Musica cromatica” nelle sperimentazioni futuriste », Quaderni del CSCI : rivista annuale di cinema italiano, dossier: Cinema italiano: pratiche e tecniche, Federico Pierotti, Paola Valentini and Federico Vitella, XIII, 2017, pp. 25-32.

  • « ‘Fasciner l’attention’. Le chromatrope et le pouvoir suggestif de la couleur en France au XIXe siècle », Transbordeur. Photographie, Histoire, Société (Éditions Macula), 2017, n. 1, pp. 134-149.

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