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Title: Tactility and opticality in contemporary abstract painting
Author: el Mathus, Miguel Mathus
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 5293
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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The thesis analyses the construction of surface in contemporary abstract painting and its broader implications, mainly in regard to Clement Greenberg's understanding of modernist painting. It considers how this issue was contended between art critics such as Greenberg and Michael Fried and artists that challenged the formalist account of painting's medium specificity through a wide range of procedures and techniques. I review Thierry de Duve's analysis of Robert Ryman's work in regard to Greenberg's understanding of modernist painting and discuss the ways in which the contest between painting and photography (since photography made painting reproducible) is central. The analysis of Ryman's work leads to a consideration of Duchamp's readymade and its significance to painting. Painting's resistance to being annexed by photography follows de Duve's contention in regard to painting-photography competitiveness where he argues that opposition to photographic reproducibility has been critical for painting since the invention of photography. At this point the historical significance of Duchamp's readymade is regarded as a repetition of the invention of photography within the domain of painting. The assertion is then that the key to contemporary abstract painting - what supports its attraction - is the manner in which the construction of surface is made through the reformulation of pictorial practices that were developed from the 1960s - such as Informel - and continue to be elaborated in a contemporary context in the works of artists like Katharina Grosse or Sergej Jensen. By considering Informel as a manifestation of a painting-photography contest I argue for its value in contemporary abstract painting as a means to further develop abstract painting's potentiality, as Katharina Grosse and Sergej Jensen do through their engagement with architectural space.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available