Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • A NEOCLASSICAL CONUNDRUM: PAINTING GREEK MYTHOLOGY IN FRANCE, 1780-1825

    Author:
    Katie Hanson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes Greco-Roman mythological subjects as a thematic subset of French Neoclassical painting between 1780 and 1825. This style and time period are better known for moralizing and heroic subjects from Roman history and Napoleonic conquest, while amorous and fantastical mythic subjects have remained marginalized. By highlighting this thematic subset, however, my dissertation emphasizes the complementarities between mythological subjects and the more widely studied themes of virtuous action within French Neoclassical painting in particular, as well as continuities with traditions and new directions in French painting more generally. I contextualize paintings by Jacques-Louis David, Anne-Louis Girodet, Antoine-Jean Gros, Pierre Gu érin, and Jean-Baptiste Regnault, as well as the commissioning and purchasing practices of the Director of King's Buildings, the comte d' Angiviller, within contemporaneous art theory, criticism, and mythography to illuminate thematic trends and cultural contexts for the reception of mythic painting. From these sources, I propose new interpretations of paintings depicting the Deucalion flood, Orpheus, Aurora, Morpheus, Ariadne, and Mars, as well as the poet Sappho. My dissertation is divided into thematic chapters analyzing myth as a cultural constant for exhibition, Ovid's illustrated Metamorphoses, otherworldly perfection in superhuman narratives and bodies, myth's embodiment of creative inspiration, and myth as a forum for legacy formation. French Neoclassical painters' utilization of fanciful narratives from Greek mythology demonstrates continued interest in Rococo subjects as well as the broadening of thematic considerations that would be paramount among Romantics. My dissertation, by considering Neoclassicizing mythologies as a group constituting a trend, demonstrates that such paintings are not isolated anomalies, but rather integrated threads in the art historical fabric, bound to what came before as well as to what would follow. This consideration of mythological paintings as a poetic subset of Neoclassicism promotes a more organic view of French painting; by presenting them as hybrids, at once Rococo (in their ambiguity and eroticism), Neoclassical (in their style and antique characters), and Romantic (in their focus on passions and creative processes of the human mind), my dissertation identifies continuities within French narrative painting from the eighteenth into the nineteenth centuries.

  • Antoine Claudet, A Figure of Photography, 1839-1867

    Author:
    Karen Hellman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Geoffrey Batchen
    Abstract:

    Up to now, the early decades of nineteenth-century photography have been narrated in terms of "great" individual achievements and have tended to characterize the histories of photography in England and France as separate but parallel chronological paths. Equally, scholars have usually split their object of study between two opposite disciplines: that of science and that of art. I propose instead a lateral approach that considers the ways in which both photography and individual photographers interconnected within an expanded network of international cultural forces, primarily commerce, technology, science, and art. I aim to do this through a close study of the career of Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (1797-1867), a French-born photographer operating a daguerreotype portrait studio in London from the early 1840s to the late 1860s. As a commercial photographer interested in improving the technical as well as aesthetic possibilities of photography, as a prolific writer on the medium, and as a Frenchman living in England constantly in communication with photographers and scientists on both sides of the English Channel, Claudet intersected with these cultural forces more directly than many of his contemporaries. By examining his pursuits laterally, across the multiple communities that they traversed in his time, this study will argue that a career like Claudet's is integral to any substantial understanding of the photographic medium's first decades, while also making a vital addition to how the history of photography is usually figured, one which acknowledges connection and collaboration as key to understanding more accurately the period of photography's invention and early development. In order to account for Claudet's connective role as a photographic figure, I will look at the early decades of photographic history as a network of dialogues in the midst of an expanded web of inseparable cultural forces. Writing Claudet's career as dialogue allows for a re-picturing of photography's development as a process of successes and failures, knowns and unknowns, that produced a range of cross-disciplinary conversations. If we consider these correspondences as the latent images of photographic history, this approach is itself a photographic one. It exposes and then "develops out" these latent conversations.

  • Angels in the Americas: Paintings of Apocryphal Angels in Spain and its American Viceroyalties

    Author:
    Orlando Hernandez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Eloise Quinones-Keber
    Abstract:

    Around the mid seventeenth century paintings of individual angels became popular in the Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain (essentially present-day Mexico and Central America) and the viceroyalty of Peru (originally most of South America excluding Brazil). However, the names and representations of individual angels found across the Spanish Empire do not correspond to the few narratives that appear in the Bible, which only mentions the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael by name. Some of these series of paintings include angels labeled as Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Uriel, who are mentioned in Jewish texts such as the Talmud and the Cabala, as well as other texts written around the first century but considered apocryphal or non-canonical by the Catholic Church, such as the Book of Enoch. Although these images were relatively popular in Spain and Mexico, their representation was far more abundant in South America. This project investigates the multiple theological sources of angel veneration in the early modern period in Italy and Spain. Tracing these literary sources illustrates how the Jesuits, supporters of the angelic cult, found inspiration in mystic Jewish tradition for their religious ideas, around the same time that Jews were being exiled or convicted across the Spanish Empire. This investigation also documents and compares the variants of angelic representation in Spain and the Americas. Pointing out their commonalities and differences demonstrates the creativity of the artistic circles of each viceroyalty in developing particular styles and trends based on the exposure to similar European sources but adapting them to different local tastes and necessities. As other scholars have suggested, the existence of many series of paintings of apocryphal angels in the Americas attests to Catholicism's use of these images as a cross-cultural tool to evangelize the Indians in the Spanish dominions by making connections between Christianity and indigenous religious belief. I suggest that these symbols, originally belonging to the conquerors, gradually became symbols of hispanicized American societies, and in Peru, of the hispanicized Indian nobility. The angels as protectors of territories also embodied an early form of local pride, which would later evolve into national pride and eventually lead to independence from Spain. Through this dissertation, I add a more complex reading of these paintings that goes beyond the scope of the arts of resistance and the amalgamation of Judaic, Christian, and indigenous religious elements. This study thus reveals a much more complex and layered syncretic product that reflects the adoption and re-adaptation of these symbols by Spanish-American colonial society.

  • The Politics of Scholarship: College Art Association and the Uneasy Relationship between Art and Art History 1911-1945

    Author:
    Craig Houser
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the critical role that the College Art Association (CAA) played in the early development of art history and studio art education as academic disciplines in U.S. colleges and universities. Although CAA initiated a variety of projects after its inception in 1911, this study focuses on the association's journals, specifically the Bulletin of the College Art Association, The Art Bulletin, Parnassus, and College Art Journal. Serving as journals of record for art and/or art history, these publications functioned not only to provide an ongoing exchange of ideas related to the visual arts in higher education, but also to validate authorities and scholars, particularly art historians, and their academic institutions. As a result, certain individuals and schools became prominent in the visual arts. My study therefore addresses not only the histories of art history and studio art, but also the relationship between CAA and its supporting institutions. Another issue in my dissertation is the rapport between CAA's two main constituents: the art historians and the artist-teachers. While they united to form CAA in 1911 to promote the visual arts in colleges and universities, the relationship between the two disciplines was often uneasy. Although CAA was established primarily by artist-teachers, the organization was taken over in the mid-1920s by art historians who controlled the journals. By the early 1940s the conflict erupted to such an extent that the art historians tried to sever ties, albeit unsuccessfully, with the artists. CAA was also affected by economics and politics of the 1930s. During the Great Depression the association struggled financially and adopted questionable policies to maintain publication of its primary journal, The Art Bulletin. With the influx of European émigrés, many CAA members also wanted the association to assume a more nationalist identity. In many respects my dissertation demonstrates that CAA was a changing social organization whose identity was at times unstable from the 1910s through World War II, as it was affected by internal conflicts and larger sociopolitical issues.

  • 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.

  • Italians and the New Byzantium: Lombard and Venetian Architects in Muscovy, 1472-1539

    Author:
    Ellen Hurst
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    James Saslow
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores how early modern Russian identity was shaped by the built environment and, likewise, how the built environment was a result of an emerging Russian identity. I focus on the years 1472 to 1539 because they were crucial to the formation of this early modern Russian identity. Muscovite princes, seeking to rebuild Moscow's cityscape in a grander style, imported a large community of architects, engineers, stonemasons, and statesmen from Lombardy, the Veneto, and Rome. At least six architects, and an unknown number of masons, from Italy worked in Muscovy during these years, and their presence indelibly changed the face of Russian architecture and culture. The Muscovite princes sought to recreate the cityscape of Moscow as a symbol of the power gained when Ivan III freed his people from Mongol control and began consolidating Russian lands into an emerging, unified state. Furthermore, with the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, Muscovy declared itself capital of Orthodox Christendom, casting its authority across the Russian lands. Accordingly on the ascent, Muscovy actively sought to define its emerging sense of national identity in a new architectural language; it deliberately looked to the traditions of Medieval and Renaissance Italy to assist in this process. The resulting hybrid architecture was a combination of the revered architectural traditions of medieval Kiev and Novgorod with the Western Renaissance, all overlaid with a fervent Byzantine theological persuasion. Thus, Muscovy's use of foreign architects is emphatically not indicative of a deference to a "superior" West or of a desire to become or appear Western, as some older scholarship implies. Instead, it reveals the ingenuity of a culture on the verge of statehood, one that seems to have understood that artistic forms could be transferred and "repurposed."

  • SPECTATORSHIP AND THE SCREEN AS INTERFACE: FRENCH ART USING TELEVISION, VIDEO, AND THE PROJECTED IMAGE FROM THE LATE 1960s TO THE PRESENT

    Author:
    Stephanie Jeanjean
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Claire Bishop
    Abstract:

    This dissertation reconstructs key moments in the history of video-based art in France from the late 1960s to the present day, focusing on the changing relationship between the viewer and the screen, as tested by artists using television, video and the projected image. This study examines the relationship between art and politics by considering how cultural policy along with socio-economical and techno-political frameworks have affected the concept of an ideal viewer. I argue that in France, from the late 1960s to today, the idea of spectatorship changes from a politicized subject who receives a clear message to an autonomous participant invited to interact with the screen as interface, in increasingly apolitical projects. Little known in France and rarely addressed in Anglophone scholarship, the history of French video-based art, and of its politics of spectatorship, constitutes an alternative narrative that departs from the dominant Anglo-American model, and suggests a different understanding of what constitutes a socio-politically informed art practice. Accordingly, this research reconsiders the little-known beginnings of video in France in the late 1960s and 1970s, examining the work produced by militant feminist collectives such as Video Out and Les Insoumuses, and the development of a sociological approach to video, focusing on Fred Forest. It then explains a shift that occurred in the late 1970s and 1980s, when video lost its socio-political edge and was guided by formal concerns, here represented by Robert Cahen and Thierry Kuntzel. This change accompanies the institutionalization of video as Video Art, which was inspired theoretically by semiology and postmodernism, and formally by the medium-based orientation of early US video. Finally, I turn to recent works from the 1990s to today: Matthieu Laurette and three artists associated with Relational Aesthetics (Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno). I argue that the criticism of Relational Aesthetics by Anglo-American scholars and critics rightly points out the lack of explicit socio-political engagement in these practices, but overlooks the specificities of the French context and the critical dimension of these works that aimed to make the spectator conscious of his or her position as viewer in relation to spectacle.

  • Colombian Artists in Paris, 1865-1905

    Author:
    Maya Jimenez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Katherine Manthorne
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT Colombian Artists in Paris, 1865-1905 by Maya A. Jiménez Adviser: Professor Katherine Manthorne This dissertation brings together a group of artists not previously studied collectively, within the broader context of both Colombian and Latin American artists in Paris. Taking into account their conditions of travel, as well as the precarious political and economic situation of Colombia at the turn of the twentieth century, this investigation exposes the ways in which government, politics and religion influenced the stylistic and thematic choices made by these artists abroad. For those who were pensioned artists and who were restricted by a defined political agenda, their artistic experimentation was limited, while the more radical artists were typically wealthy and independent. Regardless of the circumstances, Colombian artists were burdened by their country's minimal and ineffective presence overseas, which resulted in a complete misunderstanding of their culture abroad and in a lack of presence at major universal expositions. In focusing on their role as artists, educators and art critics, this dissertation reveals the important contributions that these travelers made to Colombian art as a result of their overseas travel. As revealed in the art criticism of the period, the work of these artists and their progressive philosophies on art were received with skepticism in Colombia, a country that until then had remained largely hermetic and which traditionally had been very conservative. These artists, who established the tradition of traveling to Paris and who challenged the insularity of Colombian art, ensured the eventual birth of modernism.

  • Philosophers, Artists and Saints: Ernst L. Kirchner and Male Friendship in Paintings, 1914-1917

    Author:
    Sharon Jordan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Rose-Carol Long
    Abstract:

    This dissertation emphasizes the profound role of Friedrich Nietzsche's early publications on the artist Ernst L. Kirchner's theories and artwork in contrast to interpretations that focus on the overriding influence of the philosopher's late work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Although it is well known that the German Expressionist artists' group Brücke, or "bridge," with Kirchner as a founding member, selected their name from a passage in Thus Spoke Zarathustra to signify their movement away from the conventional social and aesthetic values of Wilhelmine Germany upon their foundation in Dresden in 1905, Kirchner's intense, lifelong engagement with Nietzsche necessitates further examination. Of particular importance is Kirchner's close friendship with the charismatic Botho Graef, a Classical archaeologist and, like Nietzsche, a trained philologist. Beginning in 1914, the men's relationship spanned three turbulent years that were interrupted by the devastating events of the First World War and ended with Graef's death in 1917. Graef introduced Kirchner to Nietzsche's first publication The Birth of Tragedy, a work centered on creative achievement as realized by the ancient Greeks through their productive reconciliation of dichotomous Apollinian and Dionysian forces. This idea quickly fostered Kirchner's emergent interest in double-portraiture featuring Graef and the members of his circle with whom he maintained close pedagogical relationships modeled after the ancient example. In Nietzsche's second publication Untimely Meditations, he explains that only a select few possess an understanding of how to successfully reconcile their actions within a framework of historical awareness to become supra-historical individuals, the "philosophers, artists and saints" of his text who are uniquely capable of transcendent cultural contributions. Kirchner navigated this period by relying equally on the example described in Nietzsche's publication and on his friendship with Graef to realize his most enduring and expressive artworks, thereby succeeding in realizing Nietzsche's ideal while establishing a potent means of artistic reconciliation and personal preservation that remained vital throughout the duration of the war and continued long after his union with Graef ended.