Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • 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.

  • Sunappu: A Genre of Japanese Photography, 1930-1980

    Author:
    Yoshiaki Kai
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Geoffrey Batchen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation discusses the development of sunappu photography from the 1930s to the end of the 1970s, demonstrating its importance to the history of Japanese photography and art. Sunappu is a Japanese photographic term that began to be used in the mid-1930s, derived from the English word "snapshot." In the broader meaning of the term, it signifies instantaneous photography taken with a hand-held camera. Sunappu, however, often took on narrower connotations, referring specifically to candid photographs of people unaware of the presence of the camera. First and foremost, sunappu describes a photographic technique. However, it also constitutes a genre of Japanese photography with historical roots stretching back to the mid-1930s. Although the term sunappu has been commonly used in the Japanese photo world, there has been little attention paid to the concept of sunappu itself. That is, the significance of sunappu as an idiosyncratic genre of Japanese photography has been neglected. This dissertation argues the following points: firstly, sunappu is an indigenous tradition within Japanese photography that is epistemically different from the Anglophone snapshot. Many Japanese photographers, including established figures such as Ihei Kimura, Ken Domon, Shômei Tômatsu, Daido Moriyama, Shigeo Gochô, and Nobuyoshi Araki, worked in this tradition, inheriting and transforming it simultaneously. Secondly, sunappu is at once a technique, a genre, and a discourse. As such, it has a unique status within photographic history. Thirdly, sunappu photography addressed the issues which were shared by contemporaneous art and literature more significantly than usually believed. This aspect of sunappu made it a cultural phenomenon whose relevance goes beyond the relatively insular world of Japanese photography. More specifically, photographers utilized the technique of sunappu, i.e., candid photography, to grapple with central issues affecting art and literature at that time, such as the controversy over Riarizumu in the early 1950s (Domon), the Americanization of Japanese culture in the 1960s (Tômatsu and Moriyama), and the representation of everydayness in the early 1970s (Gochô and Araki).

  • The Legacy of Constructivism in Poland: Geometric Abstraction Before and Behind the Iron Curtain

    Author:
    Karolina Kawalko
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Rose Carol Washton Long
    Abstract:

    This dissertation situates the legacy of Constructivism in Polish painting during the 1920s and in the mid-1950s, both before and behind the Iron Curtain. The material and ideological conditions of geometric abstract art are examined within the context of the East and West and across the pre- and postwar divide. I address the troubled reception of Constructivism through the prism of the artist Henryk Stazewski (1894-1988), one of the key contributors to the history of Polish art before and after World War II. If during the prewar years Stażewski attempted to invest painting with collective, universal, and international force, in the postwar period he choreographed the process of reception by exhibiting his works at home. I argue that Stazewski was aware of the ambivalent status and depoliticization of geometric art rooted in Constructivist aesthetic, and wanted to restore its socially constructive and political dimension by - paradoxically - isolating himself in an already isolated state. While geometric abstract art can be defined and interpreted in many different ways, I examine it in Eastern Europe's specific historical circumstances and anlayze how it became a symbol of resistance and dissent against totalitarian regime. Since abstract art was perceived as "autonomous," and thus unrelated to contemporary social and political events, geometric abstraction, in contrast to the politically engaged Socialist Realism, signified not only a certain kind of freedom but also political opposition during the years of Stalinism. Despite the official hostility and frequent critical denunciation of geometric abstraction as both outmoded and apolitical, this art was in fact a powerful vehicle for affecting political change.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • John Martin (1789-1854) and the Mechanics of Making Art in a Commercial Nation

    Author:
    Lars Kokkonen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    This dissertation reinterprets the career of the English artist, John Martin (1789-1854). Challenging the popular characterization of him as an apocalyptic visionary opposed to modern commercial and industrial society, this study argues that Martin, in fact, was the only major artist of his time to speak out in favor of the modern science of political economy and its core concepts of competitive individualism, self-interest, and technological innovation. While many of Martin's artist contemporaries incessantly - and futilely - petitioned the government for financial assistance for "historical painting" on the grounds that state protection was necessary if the highest category of painting (according to the civic humanist theory of art) was ever going to flourish in commercial Britain, Martin argued that "historic painting" was "dead as an art," and continually adapted his style, media, and subject matter to meet the demands of the art market. This dissertation contends that once we consider Martin's career from the perspective of someone who believed adamantly in modern political economy, his status in the history of British art as a Romantic visionary who believed that modern commercial society was immoral and corrupt will fall away. My first chapter examines attempts by the Royal Academy between 1800 and 1815 to secure government funding for historical paintings by Academicians. It then goes on to discuss Martin's involvement in establishing the rival Society of British Artists in the interest of free competition among private exhibiting societies. The second chapter examines how Martin and others who had founded the SBA testified before a select committee of the House of Commons that the Academy was attempting to restrain free trade and extinguish competition by seeking a monopoly on public funds. The third chapter interprets Martin's Thames and metropolis improvement plans as celebrating, not condemning, the spread of capitalism, industrialization, and urbanization. The fourth chapter provides a detailed examination of John Ruskin's statements about Martin over a forty-five year period, demonstrating how Ruskin's contempt for capitalism - and those who supported it - informed his criticisms of Martin's work. The last chapter considers the effect that Martin's belief in laissez-faire capitalism had on his work in general and on his painting in particular.

  • 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.  

  • Framing the Nation: Nation Building, Resistance, and Democratization in Korean Photography, 1945-2008

    Author:
    Jung Joon Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Geoffrey Batchen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines photography in Korea since 1945, focusing on the medium's relation to the processes of nation building, civic resistance, and democratization. The dissertation evaluates a number of types of photograph, ranging from war photographs to family portraits to art photography. These assessments are informed by the ways in which photography has articulated, and in turn been shaped by, social, political, and technological shifts in Korean society. Korea's history since 1945--a history of liberation, war, nation building, and civic struggle against authoritarian military governments--parallels the culture's development of photography and its various practices. The relationship between photography and nation building and photography and democratization is thus crucial to the history of both the nation and the medium: photography does not merely re-present Korean life; it is an integral part of it. The investigation is organized chronologically, following the progression of South Korea's social and political development and treating the distinct formative periods in the nation-building process as backdrop and cultivator for the photographic works that emerged from each era. The history of photography in Korea since 1945 is the history of the struggles and trials of a society functioning under ideological conflict, state control, and a culture emerging from normalized militarism. This dissertation argues that the photographic practices that have developed since independence are fundamentally about the relationship between the state and the people. An understanding of this relationship, and how photography articulates it, is dependent on understanding the socio-political progress of the nation and how these photographic practices have become specifically Korean. The dissertation provides an understanding of this progress. With the sharp increase in interest in "national photography" since the turn of the millennium, issues of subjectivity have become even more apparent. Embracing the importance of interdisciplinary methodologies, this dissertation emphasizes issues of subjectivity and power dynamics as part of the produced knowledge and contextualizes Korean photographic practices within the historical significance of nation building, civic resistance, and democratization.