On the Becoming of an Oeuvre. Albert Flocon Meets Gaston Bachelard

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 21, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Concert Hall
format: keynote
keywords: Albert Flocon, Gaston Bachelard, Johannes Sebastian Bach, resistance

abstract about the author(s)


Between the end of the 1940s and the late 1950s, a collaboration of a peculiar sort developed in Paris between the copper engraver of German origin Albert Flocon and Gaston Bachelard, the French philosopher of science and poetologist of imagination. The outcome of this encounter is not very well known even by experts of either Bachelard’s oeuvre or of post-war art in France. Flocon and Bachelard together created a series of art books to which the former contributed the engravings and the latter enriched with shorter or longer commentaries. These commentaries take the form of reflections about the hand of the engraver, the resistance that it experiences, and the constructive forces that it sets free. The encounter will be described through the presentation of a number of selected examples that will give an impression of the whole oeuvre. It also will shed light on the connection between the poetological and the epistemological interests of Bachelard.

about the author(s)

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

The main focus of Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s research lies in the history and epistemology of experimentation in the life sciences. By bridging the gap between the study of history and contemporary cutting-edge sciences, such as molecular biology, his work represents an example of transdisciplinarity as emerging in the present knowledge-based society. The Swiss-born scientist studied philosophy and biology in Tübingen and Berlin, Germany. He received his MA in philosophy in 1973, his PhD in biology in 1982, and his habilitation in molecular biology in 1987. He was Assistant Professor at the University of Lübeck, Germany, and Associate Professor at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Since 1997, he has been a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Hans Jörg Rheinberger has been a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and of the Collegium Helveticum in Zürich. He is honorary professor at the Institute for Philosophy and History of Science of the Technical University Berlin, a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of the Sciences, a member of the Leopoldina, the German Academy of Natural Scientists, and a doctor honoris causa at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

info & contact


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, DE


rheinbg [AT] mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de