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Title: Towards a definition of the Gothic in contemporary art : haunted time and dark vision in the work of Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, and Tacita Dean
Author: Williams, Gilda
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation will consider how 'gothic' might be applied within contemporary art discourse beyond the motif-heavy assumptions which clutter its habitual usage today. I explore the term historically across its principal disciplines: firstly, art and architecture, from Renaissance to twentieth-century accounts of the Middle Ages alongside its stylistic revival during the Romantic era; and secondly, its now-predominant reference, the eponymous literature of terror emerging in the mid-eighteenth century, later strongly related to horror film, My first premise is that the term's original art-based significance - i.e., having to do with the lingering effects of unwanted inheritances - remains central to its meaning. Secondly, I observe that in attempting to define the essence of the genre, numerous literary theorists cite recurring aesthetic features, i.e., shadows and darkness; labyrinthine space; an emphasis on surface rather than depth; and claustrophobia, among others. These can be seen to establish a recognizable yet flexible aesthetic language - a gothic aesthetic - to speak of the present as a haunted time. This research will test and explore the relevance of a possible literary-based gothic aesthetic to art, particularly in relation to Andy Warhoi's Death and Disaster series (1962-65; '67), Louise Bourgeois's Cells (1986-2008), and a selection of artworks by Tacita Dean, all of which I identify as significant examples of gothic innovation in the visual arts. I also consider the gothic content of Warhol' s artistic persona, and explore whether an earlier art-historical meaning of the term, particularly regarding the fifteenth-century danse macabre, can be seen to continue in the Death and Disasters on radically revised terms. Conventionally assumed as opposites, Modernism and (modern) gothic can be said to have emerged contemporaneously during the Enlightenment. The gothic was a mode despised in the Modernist writings of Clement Greenberg and others; as I argue, some post-1960s artists can be seen to have adopted locations, figures, and forms associated with the gothic to assert counter- or after-Modernist art-making strategies, or to reflect upon Modernism's legacy today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available