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Title: Truth in soft-focus : photography and abstraction in dialogue, 1914-1930
Author: Schouela, Jessica Lauren
ISNI:       0000 0004 8506 7035
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the dialogue between modernist photography and abstraction during the period between 1914 and 1930 primarily in France, Germany and the United States. The duality of photography is emphasised: binaries and antagonistic terms associated with photography are consistently challenged and disentangled to argue against the separation of realism and abstraction. A formalist-phenomenological methodology associated with art historical traditions is adopted in order to bridge photography and abstraction. Central to this argument is a consideration of atmospheres in photography that contribute to and encourage ties with abstraction. This thesis will attend to atmospheres and their effects, putting formalist-phenomenology into practice by linking realism and abstraction, and will closely read and explore embodied experiences of abstract photographs. Chapters 1 and 2 theoretically outline key contextual stakes such as the relationship between documentary and aesthetics, photography and painting, as well as perception and photographic optics. Chapter 3 positions the abstract nature photograph within and against conventions of landscape by excluding the horizon line from compositions. Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalents series and Josef Albers's photographs of sludge are considered alongside Arvid Gutschow's photobook See Sand Sonne. Chapter 4 investigates the still-life photograph as well as formalist concerns relating to light, shadow, glows and blurs as contributors to the atmospheric charge of abstract photographs. Artists given particular attention here include Florence Henri, Lyonel Feininger, Ilse Bing and Paul Strand. Chapter 5 probes the theme of the machine in photography. Charles Sheeler's River Rouge series and a still-life photograph of jugs and vases are explored in connection with Amédée Ozenfant's theories on the 'spirit' of the modern age. Oblique photographs of the Eiffel Tower by Moholy-Nagy, Ilse Bing and Germaine Krull are also discussed as 'faulty' and disorienting abstract images.
Supervisor: White, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available