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Title: The double life of a still life : rhythm, vibration and the poetics of stillness from Paul Cezanne to Wallace Stevens
Author: Tobin, Claudia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5924 2709
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores still life across different media in the early-to mid-twentieth century. Still life has long been characterised as a 'minor' genre due to its supposedly humble subject matter. However, the genre conjures up double, often paradoxical meanings, which unsettle these assumptions. I therefore propose a more elastic interpretation, to invoke still life as a genre of visual art but also as a condition in which all arts are implicated, a form of artistic practice, and a mode of being. I argue that modern still life represents a site of visceral encounter and an artistic practice with the potential to uncover the extraordinary within the ordinary. My inquiry takes its departure from still lifes by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), and responses to them by modem writers. I examine these works as paradigmatic of a reanimation of the genre in twentieth-century art. Over the ensuing four chapters, I explore diverse permutations of still life in painting, prose, dance, sculpture, and poetry. My first chapter focuses on Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry; the second on Margaret Morris, J.D. Fergusson, and Rudolf Steiner; the third on Winifred Nicholson, Ben Nicholson, and Ivon Hitchens; and the fourth on Wallace Stevens and Charles Mauron. I consider works by these artists and the networks within which they operated to examine different ways in which they cultivated an aesthetic of vibratory attentiveness that can be illuminated in conjunction with still life. From this study emerges a broader sense of the significance of 'stillness' in cultural practices and aesthetic discourses of the period. I show that at the heart of modern artistic activity were forms of 'stillness' that were intimately bound up with movement. The still life emerges charged with animation, vibration and rhythm.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available