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Title: Rethinking material significance and authenticity in contemporary art
Author: Gordon, Rebecca Alison
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2011
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The traditional notion of material authenticity as being the physical and aesthetic evidence of the artist’s hand in the ‘original’ materials is outmoded. With the changed nature of art must come a rethinking of the concept of authenticity. Authenticity was and is often discussed in relation to attribution, and is traditionally linked with the artwork’s material presence. This thesis questions that assumption, drawing on the literature of philosophy that describes authenticity as someone’s ‘true essence’ in order to propose the significance of the interrelation of the artwork’s multiple attributes to the work’s identity. The artist’s voice has been a crucial source in this re-evaluation, with the voices of Scottish artists, or artists represented by a Scottish gallery or collection, building a picture of the way practitioners think about the significance of materials to their work. These contemporary primary sources have been contextualised with artists’ voices from published compendiums and international case studies. They have revealed the general pragmatism of artists’ approaches, particularly in relation to their creative processes. Therefore, this thesis has based its discussion around seemingly incongruous approaches: a conceptual framework and artists’ practices. However, these poles are reconciled by rooting the investigation at the point of the artwork’s creation. This has meant placing weight on the artist’s intentions for the work and his or her decision-making process, rather than the subsequent interpretations of curators and conservators that inevitably inform the artwork’s institutional afterlife. Doing so has led to a greater understanding of artists’ conceptions of material significance and their thoughts on the identity of their works. This inevitably bears implications for the preservation and display of contemporary art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N Visual arts (General) For photography ; see TR ; B Philosophy (General) ; NX Arts in general