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Title: Artistic expression, domestic desires : Vanessa Bell's vision of modern life & modern art
Author: Go, Karen Miao
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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This PhD examines the life and work of a remarkable woman – a mother, lover, artist, friend, daughter and sister who did not follow the rules of any establishment and liver her life as she saw fit. Vanessa Bell was a woman who broke the rules but remained almost entirely transfixed by a world dominated by domesticity.  As this PhD will show, radical choices, innovative art, and intellectual stimulation can co-exist with the domestic world and in a person devoted to domesticity. This PhD questions what it means to be a feminist and an avant-garde artist in the early 20th century. It questions how art history has treated the roles available to women and to the space they occupied. For Bell, art was not a way to live vicariously in other worlds; it was always a reflection of her world and her reality interpreted through her kaleidoscopic vision. For a painter interested in modern artistic movements, limiting one’s scope to the home would have seemed a defeat of one’s ideals since it was not in the home that most avant-garde artists saw modern life taking place. Yet it was the home and domestic life from which Bell drew inspiration and where she saw modern life taking place. This PhD examines Vanessa Bell’s relationship to domesticity in four sections. The first discusses her work in the decorative arts and its influence on her work in the fine arts. The second deals with how marriage both limited and opened up a new world to her, a world in which she would learn to develop human relationships within her own standards. The third concerns the importance she placed on being a mother and the ways that maternity impacted upon her painting. But also important is how her roles as wife, sister, lover and friend also influenced her work. And the final section discusses how she manipulated and depicted domestic space in her art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral