PhD-Course: Gray on Gray

The University of Oslo (IFIKK) invites you to register for the following PhD-Course


This course is based on attendance at a two-day international conference entitled Gray on Gray (see the conference description below and the conference website including abstracts ). The issues raised in the conference pertain to many disciplines in the humanities and sciences, including art history, philosophy, aesthetics, literature, music, ecology, and the neurosciences. Thus, we welcome all PhDs, who have a strong interest in the topic and can see its pertinence to their work. The major requirement for this course is to attend the conference on both days and submit a short paper 2500-word paper at a later date (tbd).

Gray on Gray


The title of this conference comes from a famous passage in the philosopher G.F Hegel’s preface to the Philosophy of Right: ”When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.” This passage is derived from an utterance by Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust, ” Gray, my dear friend, is all theory, and green is the golden tree of life.” Hegel’s phrase has been taken up in various ways by Marx, Adorno, and others in the 20th century. The colour gray also features strongly in notions of boredom, the everyday, and indifference as articulated by Heidegger, Blanchot and Beckett. In art and art history there has been a similar interest in the colour grey, perhaps beginning with use of grisaille technique in classical, renaissance, and post renaissance art, as well as in the art historian Aby Warburg’s account of how grisaille is supposedly a way to absorb and dampen the intensities and pulsions of the past, and by artists such as as Vilhelm Hammershøi, Gerhard Richter, and various practitioners of what might be called deadpan photography.

The common interpretation of the colour gray—stemming from Hegel’s passage—is that it is the color of belatedness, a perpetual coming on the scene too late to do justice to the rich colour and intensity of the world, or that it drains that immediacy and life through abstraction, interpretation, and theorization. This conference is an attempt to question this common interpretation of the colour grey, and to explore the important issues that the colour grey raises in terms of the relationships between abstraction and immediacy, color and colourlessness, life and death, nuance and flattening out, difference and repetition, finite and infinite, boredom and wonder. The papers will draw upon those working in the fields of philosophy, art history, music, ecology and literary studies.


Participants and Paper Titles

Hegel’s Shadow Theatre

Rebecca Comay, Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada


Grey Time: Waiting for Beckett

Laura Salisbury, English and Medical Humanities, University of Exeter


Out of the Polar Night: Climate Phantasms and the Image of Ice

Amanda Boetzkes, Art History, University of Guelph, Canada


Against the Grey: Working with Density and Detail in Contemporary Musical Composition

Wieland Hoban, composer and translator, Frankfurt


The ’Grey-Point’: Deleuze on Klee

Kamini Vellodi, Art History, University of Edinburgh


Monochrome aesthetic. On philosophy’s belatedness

Ingvild Torsen, Philosophy, IFIKK, Univeristy of Oslo


An Obituary on Living Stones

Per Sigurd Styve, Art History, IFIKK, University of Oslo


Grey is (not) Grey. Some Considerations on an Ethics of Attentiveness

Hana Gründler, Art History and Philosophy, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz / Max-Planck-Institut


Surface: On gray as the Melancholy of Silence in Hammershøy

Bente Larsen, Art History, IFIKK, University of Oslo


Barthes’ Tendencies: On Radical Indifference, Adiaphora, and Tone on Tone

Aron Vinegar, Art History, IFIKK, University of Oslo



Practical Info:


Dates: May 22-23, 2018

Place: Domus Academica: Theologisk eksamenssal, University of Oslo



This course/conference is open to all interested PhD students who find this topic compelling for their work.

The course/conference provides 3ECTs by attending all ten presentations—five per day--on both days of the conference, and submitting a paper assignment of 2500 words at a later date.

The course/conference is free, and light snacks are provided. Transportation, accommodation, and other meals have to be arranged and financed by the participants themselves.


Apply by sending a CV and a short motivation for attending the seminar to and

The application deadline is May 18, 2018.


Organizers: Professor Aron Vinegar, Art History IFIKK and Associate Professor, Per Sigurd Styve, Art History, IFIKK, University of Oslo.

Publisert 27. apr. 2018 16:32 - Sist endret 30. apr. 2018 10:53