Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Paradigms for Freedom: Hale Woodruff, The New Negro Agenda and Landscape

    Author:
    LeRonn Brooks
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Katherine Manthorne
    Abstract:

    The painter Hale Woodruff was the product of New Negro communities in Nashville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, Indiana. During the 1920s and 1930s, the artist created portraits of New Negro architypes. After visiting France (1927-1927), the artist took a serious interest in painting modernist landscapes. This dissertation examines the artist's navigation of the New Negro ideals of his early mentors (Alain Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois and Walter White) and his painterly interest in landscape and non-figuration as well as his tenure at Atlana University.

  • Dynamics and Divisions at the Salons of The Rose-Croix: Statistics, Aesthetic Theories, Practices, and Subjects

    Author:
    Mary Slavkin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Rose-Carol Washton Long
    Abstract:

    A variety of alternative Salons arose in France following the demise of the official Salon. Within this phrenetic climate for alternative exhibition venue creation, Joséphin Péladan founded the Salons of the Rose + Croix (1892-1897). He framed the Salons as ideologically unified exhibitions at which idealized works focusing on spirituality, tradition, and beauty would engender social reform by encouraging a decadent society to focus on timeless poetic and mystical ideas. Nevertheless, in practice the Rose + Croix functioned mainly as an exhibition venue for artists whose work only loosely responded to the established platform. The exhibited works reveal some overlap with Péladan's mystical, idealized, and reformist aims, yet even the central ten exhibitors deviated from the leader's published mandates in myriad ways, showing that the Rose + Croix was not an ideologically united group. I determine the ten central exhibitors with statistical analysis of the salon catalogs and fifty contemporary reviews, moving beyond anecdotal considerations to base my conclusions on the ideas and production of the group's main affiliates. Péladan's principles are clearly those of a writer attempting to direct artists. Rarely discussing specific techniques, he usually focused on subject matter and conceptual frameworks. The exhibiting artists built on many of his broader ideas, developing anti-naturalist methods to express their focus on eternal, mystical Ideas. Nevertheless, contemporary reviews and critical writings by Péladan and the artists reveal divergences between the platform and implementation in terms of: the relationship between art and life, the transformation of nature, and the influence of history and earlier artistic movements. Additionally, the artists associated with the group incorporated a range of religious and scientific--or pseudo-scientific--influences into their works, combining Catholic, Rosicrucian, and theosophical principles with optical science and psychology, especially theories about hysteria. The depictions of women and the highly varied literary illustrations and themes reveal that even in areas where Péladan issued specific guidelines, the exhibited works often deviated from his principles. The group also expressed conflicting attitudes toward women because at least five female artists exhibited works at the Salon--violating a central group tenet that outlawed women's participation.

  • Roma in Lima: Italian Renaissance Influence in Colonial Peruvian Painting

    Author:
    Christa Irwin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    James Saslow
    Abstract:

    The full extent of the long-lasting presence of the Italian Renaissance in colonial Lima has never been explored. This dissertation asserts that the Italian impact on painting in colonial Lima was connected to the authority of Rome, the center of the Catholic Church, and the artistic prestige of Italy in the culture of the sixteenth century. The Italian influence will be made evident through a survey of the careers of three Italian painters, Bernardo Bitti (1548-1610), Mateo Pérez de Alesio (1547-1616), and Angelino Medoro (1567-1631), who traveled to Lima in the end of the sixteenth century and went on to become the city's most successful and influential artists. Connections between the New World and Italy are to be expected owing to the reliance on Italian models in Spain itself throughout the sixteenth century. However, profound Italian influence is unique to the viceroyalty of Peru, and, it is particularly concentrated in Lima in comparison to Latin America as a whole. Through detailed examinations of the extant paintings of Bitti, Alesio, and Medoro, as well as documents of their destroyed work, a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of their styles and their contributions is offered here. Their impact is further evident in the work of students and followers. A number of South American artists of the following generation continued to draw on Italianate forms: for example, Gregorio Gamarra trained with Bitti and perpetuated that artist's distinctive elegant Mannerism. Italian influences were continued, with artists such Francisco Bejarano, an apprentice to Alesio, and Luis de Riano, who worked with Medoro. Numerous scholars have noted the prominence of Italianate forms and styles in South America, but they generally mention it as an aside or examine only isolated aspects of that influence. This scholarship includes the beginning of a map and timeline of Italian painters working in Peru, but it is by no means comprehensive and lacks any in-depth analysis of works of art. This dissertation is an in-depth consideration of the oeuvres of these Italian transplants as well as an assessment of the meaning and consequences of their presence in colonial Peru.

  • Standard Deviations: Reality, Reproducibility, and Politics in Performance Art since 1989

    Author:
    Jonah Westerman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Claire Bishop
    Abstract:

    Performance art is conventionally seen as having a privileged relation to reality because of the way it insists on the immediate experiences of specific human bodies, the full depth of which can never be adequately reproduced or captured. This understanding of performance as accessing authenticity through ephemerality has long made it a stage for artistic and political subversion. Since the early 1990s, however, a group of European artists responding to processes of globalization that have changed the nature of political economy--the demise of the Soviet Union, NAFTA, and new regulations concerning trade and travel in the E.U.--have developed performance strategies that unsettle the traditional understanding of performance that insists on the potency of an eruptive ephemerality. This dissertation discusses how the performance-based works of Santiago Sierra (b. 1966, Spain), Artur Żmijewski (b. 1966, Poland), Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010, Germany), and the artist collective, Neue Slowenische Kunst (formed 1984, Slovenia) use non-artist participants as a primary medium alongside photography, video, and web-based platforms to assert the reproducibility of both people and events. I argue that performance art since 1989 comprises a new mode of addressing audiences designed to illustrate how history persists and repeats in the present, especially when we imagine we can escape it. As such, each artist engages and describes a specific local horizon that defines a global totality in its own terms, at once acknowledging the newness of the post-1989 world and refuting it. The works I analyze present audiences with the "same" object of interpretation in order to elicit and describe the range of responses possible. I argue that every reproducible performance functions as a sonar ping, issuing from the work of art and mapping the surrounding human territory. From this notional zero-point, the work creates a political portrait, detailing a spectrum of opinions and speculating on their historical derivation. Because of how these works themselves deviate from traditional performance, they are able to chart a cognitive landscape that describes where each of us stands in relation to others--they picture us and our various pictures of the world as so many standard deviations.

  • Female Book Owners in the Valois Courts, 1350-1550: Devotional Manuscripts as Vehicles for Self-Definition

    Author:
    Joni Hand
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Barbara Lane
    Abstract:

    An examination of the books owned by noblewomen from the Valois courts reveals how significantly they contributed to the cultural and spiritual character of the period. They were responsible for commissioning a vast number of manuscripts, some of which were aesthetically equal to the books made for the dukes and kings. In fact, certain manuscripts now considered the most lavish and important from this period belonged to women. These women often married into noble families from regions far from their native lands. When they arrived at their new homes, they brought their own customs, knowledge of artistic styles, and aesthetic sensibilities, which affected book production in western Europe. Appendices 1-7 show the complexity of relationships between nobles from Burgundy, France, Spain and England for eleven generations, and include all of the individuals discussed in this dissertation. These charts reveal the matrilineal connections between generations and include many women who do not appear on ancestral charts in other studies of the late medieval nobility in northern Europe. As demonstrated in the charts, marriages could result in the solidification of certain regions within a generation, causing genealogical ramifications in subsequent generations. This ancestral web shows the mobility of women in western Europe in the late Middle Ages, resulting in their desire to preserve some of their childhood traditions through commissions of devotional manuscripts. This interactive nature of manuscripts and the multiple ways in which they were used by women of the Valois courts is central to this study. I adhere to the idea that devotional manuscripts used by these women must be studied within the context for which they were made and in which they were used. At first glance, devotional manuscripts appear to be just that, books of prayers. On further examination, it is clear that they were multifunctional and could express issues that applied to many aspects of a noblewoman's life. This dissertation considers book collections of late medieval noblewomen and the ways in which they used their private devotional manuscripts as vehicles for self-definition, in order to preserve the devotional and cultural traditions of their families.

  • Arte povera in Turin 1967-1978: Contextualizing Artistic Strategies during the Anni di piombo

    Author:
    Elizabeth Mangini
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Romy Golan
    Abstract:

    This dissertation presents an original analysis of four artists based in Turin, Italy: Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934), Mario Merz (1925-2003), Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947), and Gilberto Zorio (b. 1944). Although these sculptors are ordinarily considered either individually or within the context of the 1960s-70s movement Arte povera, focusing on the sub-grouping reveals historical, tactical, and thematic connections that are otherwise unapparent. Their specific careers evolved within the social, artistic and intellectual context of Turin during a time of great political upheaval and philosophical foment. This study contributes to a new understanding of engagement by these four artists with Italian aesthetics and politics, and presents a framework through which to study Arte povera more generally. Critic Germano Celant was based in Turin in 1967, when he developed the notion of Arte povera as a national artistic phenomenon that began in 1967 and ended in 1971. From its inception, the label was applied to contemporary Italian artists whose projects explicitly aimed to de-invest the artwork of predetermined meaning, but it is often misunderstood as referring to an interest in "poor" materials. Rather than attempting to recast and debate the term Arte povera however, this dissertation primarily argues that the socio-political history of Turin, combined with a prominent school of phenomenological philosophy, inspired the rise of specific aesthetic strategies and their subsequent identification by figures such as Celant, Tommaso Trini, Mirella Bandini, and others. Anselmo, Merz, Penone, and Zorio, in particular, created objects and installations that used natural and industrial materials alike to engage viewers in modes of active perception, creating empowered viewing subjects. Seen in relief with contemporary philosophical ideas about multi-sensory experience forming the sensible world, such artworks appear as aesthetic analogues to the political mobilizations occurring in Turin's factories and streets. Using a periodization based on Italian political history rather than the artistic one considered by Celant, this study examines the projects of these four artists from the student movement's beginnings in 1967 to the climax of domestic terrorism in 1978. It situates each artist's material practice within the local philosophical and social context to reveal its latent political charge.

  • Painterly Representation in New York, 1945-1975

    Author:
    Jennifer Samet
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    Although the myth persists that figurative painting in New York did not exist after the age of Abstract Expressionism, many artists in fact worked with a painterly, representational vocabulary during this period and throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This dissertation is the first survey of a group of painters working in this mode, all born around the 1920s and living in New York. Several, though not all, were students of Hans Hofmann; most knew one another; some were close friends or colleagues as art teachers. I highlight nine artists: Rosemarie Beck (1923-2003), Leland Bell (1922-1991), Nell Blaine (1922-1996), Robert De Niro (1922-1993), Paul Georges (1923-2002), Albert Kresch (b. 1922), Mercedes Matter (1913-2001), Louisa Matthiasdottir (1917-2000), and Paul Resika (b. 1928). This group of artists has been marginalized in standard art historical surveys and accounts of the period. In general, this is because figurative painting of this period does not fit into a teleological reading of art history, with abstraction perceived as the ultimate progression and goal of painting. As Pop Art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism gained force, the figurative painters were increasingly marginalized in the art world. The aim of this dissertation is to re- contextualize these artists into the New York art world of their time by discussing their training as abstractionists, their aesthetic theory, their teaching, their critical reception, and their careers. I focus particularly on the ways in which they reconciled the principles of abstraction with representational content. Although abstraction and representation were increasingly polarized in the art world, the painters themselves, and several critics and writers on their work were able to see the possibilities for a more dialectical synthesis of the two.

  • Between Code and Message: Argentine Conceptual Art, 1966-1976

    Author:
    Daniel Quiles
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Romy Golan
    Abstract:

    This dissertation historicizes and theorizes the emergence and refinement of conceptual art in Argentina between the years 1966 and 1976. The conceptual turn, commonly understood as the shift from painting and sculpture to multimedia event- and language-based artistic practices in the 1960s and 1970s, took on an activist dimension in this context. A group of artists in Argentina collaboratively developed an educational role for art in the face of the dictatorship's control over a relatively new and increasingly powerful mass media. Argentine conceptual art as it is understood here can be traced back to one figure in particular, Oscar Masotta, a cultural theorist, pedagogue, and occasional artist who argued that artists such as Andy Warhol were engaged in a semiotic project of stripping away the content, or message, of the popular image to reveal the code, or underlying structure, that allowed the message to be delivered. Masotta and a circle of artists with whom he was working expanded this technique to include other systems that could be similarly analyzed: genres of art such as the happening, exhibition space, the art institution, the mass media, and the state. This process of extricating code and message has a crucial consequence: once analyzed, the system at hand can no longer deliver its message, either because its code has become too conspicuous or because it has been dissembled into parts. In 1968, Masotta's techniques were incorporated into a larger collaborative project titled Tucumán Arde, which staged protest exhibitions against the dictatorship's economic policies at union halls. For the artists involved in this project, it was not enough to merely analyze codes. A replacement message had to be substituted for the one that had been undermined. This dissertation traces the shared development of these conceptual strategies up to and after 1968, and the abandonment of art by most of the artists involved in Tucumán Arde. With worsening political conditions in Argentina in the 1970s, the conceptual strategies utilized by Masotta and Tucumán Arde were adapted to address political oppression from an increasingly powerless position.

  • Donald Judd's Furniture, From Do-It-Yourself to the Art of Lifestyle

    Author:
    Nina Murayama
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Anna Chave
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of Judd's furniture design from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. It sheds light on the artist's anarchistic political stance and on the do-it-yourself cultural phenomenon as a model for his intentionally naïve-looking furniture generated through his collaboration with local carpenters in Marfa, Texas during the 1970s. Judd's furniture production developed to a more sophisticated, skilled mode of fabrication in the 1980s, while his furniture and artwork became increasingly intertwined at many levels including the philosophical, the formal, and the realms of fabrication, installation, and marketing. This dissertation demonstrates how Judd's furniture design became integral to the permanent installations he orchestrated in Marfa and how he eventually shaped a certain way of living in his carefully organized environments. The ambiguity in the distinctions between functional objects and art pieces in the Minimalist ambit stimulated a rise of usable sculpture created by a succeeding generation of artists including Scott Burton. With respect to their emphasis on the role of the viewer or user, and on leading art into the everyday, Judd's and Burton's art-furniture both originated from aspects of individual presence and action in society rather than from a taste for good design.

  • The Golden Age of French Academic Painting in America, 1867-1893

    Author:
    Leanne Zalewski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    The aim of this dissertation is to present a more accurate assessment of nineteenth-century French academic art and its place not only in European art history but also in the history of American culture in the early Gilded Age. I focus on the phenomenally successful American careers of its four leading artists: William Bouguereau (1825-1905), Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), and Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891). Several exhibitions and monographs have been devoted to these individual artists in the past three decades; however, these artists have been studied individually and largely within a European art framework, rather than collectively as a phenomenon in the context of the American art world of the early Gilded Age. Lacking is a thorough examination and comparative study of these artists' meteoric rise to prominence, their impact on the art scene in the United States, and their eventual eclipse. My study is the first to take a comprehensive approach to this collecting phenomenon through an analysis of contemporary accounts in journals, periodicals, art histories, and dealers' stock books. The early Gilded Age in the United States was a golden era for these four artists. Two international expositions--the 1867 Universal Exposition held in Paris and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago--bracketed the golden age of French academic painting. This study explores the trajectory of their careers during this twenty-five year span by means of an analysis of multiple factors that led to their striking success in the United States. Among the most significant factors were the art dealers: Goupil & cie. and George Lucas in Paris, and Samuel P. Avery and Michael Knoedler in New York. These dealers brought French pictures to the United States following the four French artists' success at the 1867 Exposition, where American art was broadly perceived to be a failure. Aided by dealers, prominent American collectors quickly amassed collections comprised primarily of French academic art, and paintings by this quartet of French artists were among the most expensive on the market. American critics kept the artists in the spotlight, American writers canonized them in their first histories of French art, and collectors placed their pictures in newly-formed art museums. However, by the time the World's Columbian Exposition took place, the four artists' work had begun to seem outdated. The 1893 Exposition ushered in a new era, as contemporary American and French Impressionist art had quickly begun to replace French academic art in American collections.