Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Paris-Vienna: Modern Art Markets and the Transmission of Culture, 1873-1937

    Author:
    Christian Huemer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    Organized chronologically in four chapters, this dissertation provides a broad-based account of the cultural transfers between Paris and Vienna at a time of increased artistic mobility. Focusing on the period between the 1873 World Exposition in Vienna and the 1937 Exposition of Austrian Art in Paris, the study seeks to elucidate what specific works of art were transferred from one cultural region into the other, and how they were appropriated within different regimes of value. While Paris managed to establish itself as the capital of the modern art market with exports on a large scale, Vienna faced tremendous difficulties in its attempt to become a major player in the European art world. How the cultural optimism before the Vienna World Exposition turned into a deep and sustained economic depression is examined in chapter one. Consequently, a number of Austrian artists decided to seek their fortune in Paris where the powerful art dealer Charles Sedelmeyer managed some of their careers. Chapter two shows how the grandes machines, theatrically presented and toured internationally by dealers, became the target of criticism. While the Vienna Secession intensified contacts to French artists, dealers, and collectors, intimate displays and clear narratives were able to disguise the commercial character of its shows. The role of Carl Moll for the importation of French modernism is considered in chapter three. Not only did he serve as director of the Galerie Miethke but was also instrumental in the foundation of a museum of modern art in Vienna. The study closes with a discussion of the impressive Exposition of Austrian Art at the Jeu de Paume which is exemplary for the French government's active foreign cultural politics after World War I and the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. A powerful gallery-system, able to implement and sustain Austrian art on foreign markets, never developed in Vienna where private patronage and artists associations continued to play a much more significant role.

  • An Alternative by Any Other Name: Alternative Comics between the "Mainstream" and the Avant-Garde, 1976 to the Present

    Author:
    Doug Singsen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Claire Bishop
    Abstract:

    "Alternative comics" is a term that describes comic books produced since the mid-1970's that occupy a space at the intersection of mass culture and the avant-garde and represent an example of what I call, following literary scholar David M. Earle, the popular avant-garde. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the avant-garde as a model, this dissertation maintains that the popular avant-garde comprises a contradictory but real set of cultural practices. Alternative comics are conventionally defined by critics and academics by the absence of superheroes and other action-oriented mainstream comics genres, but this dissertation argues that the genres and other practices of mainstream comics have in fact been integral to many of the most critically acclaimed and influential examples of alternative comics. These comics incorporate mainstream genres through the use of what I term disjunctive genre hybridity, a technique in which "undigested fragments" of different genres are combined in ways that disrupt the fictional reality or norms of these genres, a concept that, like the popular avant-garde, has applications beyond the field of comics. In addition to alternative comics, disjunctive genre hybridity has also been used by some mainstream cartoonists, demonstrating the fluid boundary between alternative and mainstream comics. Another link between them is the fact that alternative cartoonists often portray themselves or their alter egos as fans and collectors, roles that have been central to the culture of mainstream comics since the 1970's, despite the fact that alternative cartoonists see fans, including themselves, as pathetic, socially marginal figures, echoing the derogatory stereotype of the fan prevalent in popular culture. Mainstream comics also figure prominently in the history of The Comics Journal (1977-), the most important magazine of comics criticism, which is often upheld as the most prominent advocate of alternative comics, although it was originally a conventional mainstream "fanzine" (fan magazine) that focused primarily on mainstream and groundlevel comics throughout the 1970's and 1980's, alternately criticizing and praising them, and only shifted its critical focus to alternative comics in the 1990's.

  • Beyond Polychromy: John Gibson, the Roman School of Sculpture, and the Modern Classical Body

    Author:
    Roberto Ferrari
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a study of the life and career of the British sculptor John Gibson (1790-1866), whose Roman studio near the Piazza del Popolo was a frequently visited site for Grand Tourists during the nineteenth century. I argue that, for Gibson, classicism was modern, and thus he developed new methods for creating and disseminating the modern classical body in nineteenth-century sculpture. Gibson is considered by scholars to be the first nineteenth-century British artist to reintroduce polychromy in marble sculpture, as exemplified by his best-known work, the so-called Tinted Venus, 1851-53, which was displayed in London at the International Exhibition of 1862. Because this tinted statue challenged sculpture's purity of form, the subsequently negative historiography of this work has obfuscated Gibson's numerous other accomplishments in the history of nineteenth-century art. In this dissertation I discuss many of his other free-standing marble statues of modern classical subjects, such as Cupid Disguised as a Shepherd Boy, ca. 1830, a popular work commissioned in marble nine times for different patrons, and The Hunter and His Dog, 1840-41, a statue considered by his contemporaries to be his masterpiece for its balance of idealism with a close study of nature. I also examine a selection of his portrait busts and monumental statues, bas-reliefs, drawings, and work in other media, such as porcelain statuettes and engravings, for a broader perspective of his exploration of the modern classical body. Rather than ignore his polychrome sculptures, however, I offer new readings of them to show how they intersected with these other important aspects of his career. Although I focus on one artist and use published and unpublished archival sources to discuss Gibson and his work, my methodology is pluralistic. I engage biography with nineteenth-century exhibition history and critical art reviews, and I link patronage and art production to gender studies and queer theory. I also engage with sculpture in its international context, as Gibson himself would have been exposed to it in the cosmopolitan art center that was Rome. Thus, the work of Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen, the two leading sculptors in the Roman school, are components of this dissertation, as are the works of native British sculptors such as John Flaxman and Joseph Nollekens to demonstrate what Gibson learned from his early teachers and how he evolved to craft his own version of the modern classic in Rome. I contextualize his work with that of his contemporaries in Rome, such as the British sculptor Richard James Wyatt, the Dutch sculptor Mathieu Kessels, and the Italian sculptor Adamo Tadolini, for a better assessment of Gibson's sculptural practices. I also discuss his patronage by aristocrats like Queen Victoria and Czar Alexander II, politicians such as Sir Robert Peel, and bourgeois industrialists such as the Liverpool manufacturer Richard Vaughan Yates, as well as the global dissemination of his work during his lifetime, which was exhibited internationally throughout Europe, Russia, Australia, North America, and India. In the introductory chapter, I establish my argument, that through a reexamination of Gibson's life and career beyond his experiments with polychrome sculpture, one can better assess his importance to the history of sculpture itself by reconsidering how he redefined the modern classical body. The second chapter is a biographical overview that demonstrates how Gibson's roots in the British school of art influenced his ideas about classicism as a form of modernity. Chapter three considers Gibson's studio practice, from the close examination of his account books to his influence on his most famous pupil, the American sculptor Harriet Hosmer. Chapter four focuses on the homoerotic male body in Gibson's oeuvre. An advocate of the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Gibson created heroic and ephebic male nudes, such as Mars Restrained by Cupid, 1819-25, a work that suggests issues as diverse as homosocialism and queer subjectivity. Chapter five discusses Gibson's interest in reproductive media and how, in shifting his role from a hands-on sculptor to a designer, he explored reproductive technologies in cameo production, ceramics, and printmaking to disseminate images of the modern classical body to the rising bourgeoisie. The final chapter explores Gibson's legacy, including his influence on New Sculptors such as Hamo Thornycroft. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that through a reexamination of the life and work of Gibson, one can begin to move past the pejorative sensibilities of Neoclassicism itself as merely historicist and reconsider classicism as a form of modern art in the nineteenth century.

  • Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: Collecting and Patronage in the Gilded Age

    Author:
    Margaret Laster
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Kevin Murphy
    Abstract:

    Until now, Lorillard-tobacco heiress, philanthropist, and art patron Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828-1887) has been largely overlooked in the study of the cultural life of post-Civil War America. Nevertheless, as one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a preeminent collector of contemporary European art that she bequeathed to the Museum, she made her mark in the 1870s and 1880s as a prominent tastemaker in Gilded-Age New York. At the same time, Wolfe extended her artistic reach to the seaside resort of Newport, Rhode Island. With her architects, the firm of Peabody & Stearns, she embarked on the construction of a great summer house that enabled her to showcase her architectural and artistic sophistication. Her patronage of leading artists and designers of the English Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts movements there helped propel their work into the American visual consciousness. There were two components to Wolfe's patronage, each encompassing a specific residence, a particular locale, and a distinct aesthetic. Few art patrons, especially unmarried women, have had such a direct impact on the Gilded Age's cultural landscape in this dual way. Using a method derived from material culture and patronage studies, and the archival and contextual analysis of objects and buildings, this dissertation analyzes the range and significance of her contribution to the two sites she inhabited. The study of Wolfe's projects and her ability to negotiate between the domains of city and resort enable one to assess how one member of New York's elite was able to use the amassing of material culture to elevate her status in the city at a time when social classes were being redefined. It was also a transformative period in Newport, which was on its way to becoming the premier resort on the Eastern seaboard. Wolfe's creation of a great house there became an important signifier of her status and made a permanent mark on the built environment of Newport. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of art consumption, display, and identity formation, and how they functioned in different contexts and in different ways through the acts of collecting and patronage.  

  • The Seventh Regiment Armory Commission and Design: Elite Identity, Aesthetic Patronage and Professional Practice in Gilded Age New York

    Author:
    Chelsea Bruner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Kevin Murphy
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is an exploration and analysis of the Seventh Regiment Armory, a privately funded, purpose-built headquarters for the nineteenth century's most elite volunteer militia. This project demonstrates how the conception and funding of the building were a direct response to Gilded Age labor-capital conflict--a means by which even non-member elites could participate in the most contentious socio-political debates of the day. Simultaneously, the Armory's commission and design reflected a new level of professionalization in the design profession(s) and specialization in architectural typology, and I argue that transformations in politics and professional practice were not discrete phenomena, but were manifestations of elite class consolidation in the face of unprecedented social change. This study tracks the evolution of the Seventh, establishing a connection between military proficiency and elite identity as reflected in a series of facilities used over the years. I connect the Seventh's policing duties with other elite initiatives to compel fiscal and social "reform" while establishing Aestheticism as a visual and stylistic corollary to those endeavors. Implemented by the first generation of American design professionals--architects, engineers and even artists--the class-based component of professionalism was brought to the fore in the late 1870s by the nascent labor movement, and this project explores the heretofore unexamined role that striking workers played in further catalyzing class consolidation among elite patrons and their peers in the design professions. The Armory was an exemplar of these professional and stylistic transformations. This analysis illuminates the continuity between the Seventh's interiors and other contemporaneous projects that are united (to a remarkable degree) stylistically, but otherwise typologically and geographically varied, further linking Aestheticism to the broader project of class consolidation and identity formation. By the mid-1880s, the style had fallen out of favor, thus the Armory is significant as a rare, extant example. It was the precedent for a subsequent boom in armory construction and inspired a number of imitators locally and across the country, but its sumptuous interiors were never matched. The Armory is an important and heretofore unexplored monument to a moment of incredible transformation in the country and city's history.

  • "I Am Elsewhere": Luigi Ontani and the Tableau Vivant in Italian Art, 1969-1979

    Author:
    Anna Mecugni
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Romy Golan
    Abstract:

    "`I Am Elsewhere'" posits Luigi Ontani as a leading figure and pioneer of the postmodern tableau-vivant revival in Italy, 1969 to 1979. The tableau vivant as an artistic strategy and subject concerned artists both independent and affiliated with Arte Povera. The primary medium for these artists was photography and, secondarily, live performance, film, video, and painting. The main forerunners of this revival were painter Giorgio de Chirico and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. Ontani donned the visages of figures and characters from past paintings and sculptures, cultural history, and contemporary popular culture in tableaux primarily staged for the camera. He pioneered the use of color photography and video in the early 1970s. In the second half of the 1970s he performed his tableaux in front of an audience and executed a series of hand-tinted black-and-white tableau photos in collaboration with commercial photographers in India. This study combines object-based art history, cultural history, and critical theory. It connects Ontani's tableau works with camp aesthetics and queer theory, and investigates the economic, technological, social, political, cultural, and artistic circumstances out of which the tableau-vivant revival emerged and flourished in Italy. The tableau-vivant revival and Ontani's works are related to three contemporaneous socio-historical phenomena: image culture, or the saturation of everyday life with electronic and printed images starting in the early 1960s; the Italian gay liberation movement of the early 1970s; and internal terrorism from both left and right, afflicting the country from 1969 until 1980. This treatise problematizes the reductive view of contemporary Italian art as structured around the binary sequence Arte Povera-Transavanguardia. It addresses the phenomenon of the tableau-vivant revival, yet to be discussed in the literature on contemporary Italian art. The importance of this phenomenon cannot be underestimated since creating tableaux has become a central artistic strategy in the visual arts of the past thirty plus years, and is commonly considered a hallmark of postmodern aesthetics. "`I Am Elsewhere'" also contributes a study of one of the earliest extensive collaborations between an Italian and Indian practitioners in the postcolonial world.

  • ENTFESSELTES BAUEN (BUILDING UNLEASHED): HOLISTIC EDUCATION IN HANNES MEYER'S BAUHAUS: 1927-1930

    Author:
    Dara Kiese
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Rose-Carol Washton Long
    Abstract:

    The prevalent view of the Bauhaus is based on Gropius' tenure from 1919 to 1928. This dissertation examines the school under second director Hannes Meyer (1928-1930) in terms of pedagogy, production and presentation to the public. Discussion about Meyer's political views and Gropius' own well-publicized version of the history have overshadowed his accomplishments. This dissertation widens the purview of his project to encompass pressing contemporary cultural and philosophical currents. Rooted in late 19th century ideals of mutual cooperation and holism, Meyer's Bauhaus marked a pivotal moment for architectural and design education. Stressing the individual's complex needs, community, egalitarianism and financial self-sufficiency, he created a model for a more open design process. Inspired by interdisciplinary and sometimes conflicting methodologies--from Gestalt theory to social sciences and biology to anarchism and ecology--Meyer's contributions were innovative in focus and methodology to discover how best to meet the needs of the contemporary user or consumer. Chapter One, "`New World,' New Hire: Meyer's `Functional, Collectivist-Constructive' Teaching Philosophy in 1927," gives an account of Meyer's first year at the Bauhaus as the head of the architecture department to show how disagreements with other faculty members and ongoing debates have shaped the prevalent understanding of his subsequent directorship. Chapter Two, "Der Mensch als Einheit. Meyer's Guest Lectures as theoretical humanism" details how he changed the focus of attention from Bauhaus "style" to serving the needs of man by better understanding him through study of the humanities, social sciences, philosophy and applied, holistic and Gestalt psychology. Chapter Three "Meyer's New Building Theory: `the architect is dead,' but the building lives" investigates the theoretical bases of Meyer's approach and then considers its practical manifestations in the pedagogical components of the architecture program. Finally, Chapter Four "Bauhaus Wanderausstellung: Discursive Space and DIY Design" examines Meyer's public presentation of Bauhaus pedagogy and production in the 1929-30 traveling exhibition and public lectures. He employed the same approach to the public sphere by equipping people with the discursive and practical tools necessary to imagine and create their own suitable and sustainable environments, leading to many aspects of contemporary architecture and design practice.

  • Owning the Exotic: Production of Hispano-Islamic Lusterware and its Reception in Western Europe, 1350-1650

    Author:
    Andrea Ortuno
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Jennifer Ball
    Abstract:

    Lusterware, tin-glazed pottery decorated with striking iridescent designs, was first made in Basra, Iraq, in the ninth century. These luxury ceramics and the specialized technique involved in their creation spread rapidly throughout the Islamic world, with the Iberian Peninsula ultimately becoming a center for production. This dissertation examines the social, historical, and artistic circumstances surrounding Hispano-Islamic lusterware production and provides insight into its reception in Western Europe during the height of its consumption from 1350 to 1650. Given that available scholarship on Hispano-Islamic lusterware is primarily concerned with archaeological excavation, trade practices, and formal analysis, our understanding of what this pottery meant to the artists who created it and to the patrons whose tastes it satisfied has remained unclear. My dissertation clarifies these aspects by viewing both the creation and patronage of this lusterware as driven by its conception as an exotic luxury item in the Iberian Peninsula as well as in Northern Europe and Italy. Moreover, while waning lusterware consumption in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, and Spain in particular, has been viewed as evidence of a change of taste imposed by the growth of an Italian Renaissance aesthetic, I demonstrate that new types of attainable exotica, such as Chinese porcelain and New World ceramics, also diminished lusterware's popularity.

  • Engineering, Photography, and the Construction of Modern Paris, 1857-1911

    Author:
    Sean Weiss
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Kevin Murphy
    Abstract:

    "Engineering, Photography, and the Construction of Modern Paris, 1857-1911" investigates the photographic practices of state civil engineers in the construction of public works in Paris during the Second Empire (1852-70) and the early Third Republic (1870-1940). It contends that Paris became expressly modern by means of a physical transformation that was inseparable from new modes of publicity arising in concert with technologies of representation and reproduction. Photographs commissioned in many building campaigns supervised by state engineers functioned as exemplary documents of rationalized urban management used to remotely monitor site conditions, construction progress, and detail construction techniques. The state's civil engineers not only documented building campaigns with photography, but they also orchestrated the circulation of these photographs of public works at sites for official publicity including universal expositions, publications, and the press. As a result of these and related efforts, civil engineers crafted modern Paris as a material space and as a virtual one, which drew the experience of spectators into the construction of the capital. This thesis is elucidated through five chapters that demonstrate how photography and civil engineering intersected with the urban transformation of the capital. The chapters progress chronologically and examine a series of case studies, which shift back and forth between applications of the medium in the field and the institutional environments that structured patterns of production and reception of these photographs. By doing so, this study argues that engineers' construction of physical infrastructure was inseparable from their uses of photography, which together helped to construct the capital's modernity in the second half of the nineteenth century.

  • TRADITION AND INNOVATION IN THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE WORKSHOP: FROM PERUGINO TO RAPHAEL

    Author:
    Jennie Jee-Hyun Kim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    James Saslow
    Abstract:

    Throughout Pietro Perugino's career, pupils, assistants, and collaborators associated with his shops in Perugia and Florence were critical to his highly productive enterprise. The drawings of Perugino and his Florentine and Umbrian associates are a unique source of linear genealogy documenting the role of the master, the contributions and participation of the workshop, and the artistic exchange that occurred in the process. This dissertation examines the workshop practices of Perugino and his pupils as independent artists, using evidence furnished by workshop drawings. The drawings, byproducts of the daily operations of these workshops, reveal both continuity in practice over generations and the ways in which each generation adapted to changes in the artistic climate. The reconstructions, in addition, have the potential to shed additional light upon the intersection between tradition, theory, and practice, as well as socio-economic conditions, such as training, collaboration, and organization in the Renaissance workshop. The market for copies, variations, and replicas is considered in the context of the notion of imitazione and meaning and cultural value of copies unique to Perugino's time. And the different grades of workshop production are illuminated by Perugino's methods of production and design. Using evidence furnished by workshop drawings, this dissertation also examines the formative influence of the practices of Perugino on artists trained in his workshop. Among artists that came under his tutelage, two dominant tendencies emerge: a derivative style in Perugia among local artists under the shadow of Perugino's monopoly and an independent style, found outside of Perugia, reflecting the influence of Perugino's workshop instruction. The careers of two significant pupils, Berto di Giovanni in Perugia and Raphael in Florence and Rome demonstrate the transmission of the experience of Perugino's workshop through two very different career trajectories, and will be used as case studies. Characteristics of their practice that reflect the heritage of Perugino such as the systematic use of drawings, employment of tools and techniques of replication and the master's exemplum, and principles of organization will be evaluated to trace continuity and innovation in workshop practice.