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Title: Abstraction, experience, reduction : time and periodicity in the work of Myron Stout and postwar American art history
Author: Green, Alison McKenzie
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2005
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This dissertation is the first full-career study of the American painter Myron Stout (1908- 1987). Stout is best known for a series of small black and white abstract paintings he made between 1955 and 1980. He is most often associated with American hard-edge painting of the early 1960s, the movement which set the stage for Minimalism. However, Stout's work predates hard-edge painting in an important way, namely that he developed it as an extension of Abstract Expressionism. Stout intended the reduced palette, simplified shapes, and absence of gestural marks in his paintings to be effective containers for an expression of lived experience. Stout confounds typical art historical narratives in other ways. He was introduced to modernism in the 20s, but did not begin his life as a painter until the late 1940s. In an era of high production he made very few paintings-about fifteen over twenty-five years. His work "predicts" some of the issues that emerged in Minimalism, but by the mid-1960s Stout appeared very much a 50s artist. Whilst seemingly a die-hard, purist painter, his artistic milieu included artists innovating very different kinds of practices, from Happenings and Pop to realist painting. Finally, from today's perspective, Stout is a lesser-known artist, but he is and was nonetheless an insider in terms of his education and his artistic contacts. By addressing the practice of a single artist, this dissertation demonstrates that even in the face of newer, more inclusive methodologies, recent histories Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism still have problems with inclusivity, indeed depend to a large degree on narrow views. The approach here is to illuminate moments where Stout's history collides with conventional period-histories. Using Stout's chronological age in addition to his interface with the art world, it takes a longer view of his career, addressing early and late parts of his life. Stout's continuity through these periods raises questions about how models of périodisation continue to drive the way art history is written.
Supervisor: Jachec, Nancy Sponsor: Oxford Brookes University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral