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Title: Busy working with materials : transposing form, re-exposing Medardo Rosso
Author: Taylor, Damian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 440X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines how making extends artists' thoughts beyond their conceptions. Central to this is consideration of how an artist's statements and their work relate: this thesis argues that the relationship is neither of identity nor contradiction, but of a productive tension from which emerges a richer understanding of thought. A similar approach underscores this doctorate's relationship of studio and written components, both of which desire self-sufficiency. The studio work consists of discrete yet mutually informing series, all engaged with the specificity of a moment of exposure, whether here and now or recording a past moment. The notion of 'documentation' underscores these works, which include large chemical photographs, high-definition video, cyanotypes and extensive exploration of casting to reveal latent images. The written component is a thorough study of the various instances of Medardo Rosso's sculpture Ecce Puer, offering art-historical and theoretical grounding of hands-on making as a way pressing cultural issues inhere in a work at a more fundamental level than understood by its contemporaries or maker. The first chapter locates Rosso in his historical milieu. Chapter 2 assesses the elements constituting Ecce Puer; it argues that no definitions of a 'work' adequately encompass these, and coins the term 'complex work' to designate artworks indivisibly singular and plural, concrete and abstract. Chapter 3 offers phenomenological interpretation of Rosso's confused writings, illuminating them through Maurice Merleau-Ponty's late philosophy but understanding Rosso's thought as inadequate to the complexity of his work. Chapter 4 examines Rosso's photography, specifically his photography of photographs, connecting what this achieves to his phenomenology. Chapter 5 introduces a key notion of 'friendship' to understand how the connections between instances of Ecce Puer became 'meaningful'. Having offered a fundamentally new interpretation of Rosso's project, chapter 6 extends Michael Fried's history of French painting to relocate Rosso within early twentieth-century art.
Supervisor: Chevska, Maria ; Taylor, Brandon Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sculpture ; Italian--20th century ; Art ; Italian--20th century--Themes ; motives