Rosin, Rachel C. (Rachel C. Rosin) (Author), (Katherine Kuenzli) (advisor)
The teenage girl, no longer a child, but not yet a fully formed woman, emerges as a distinct subject matter in nineteenth-century French art. This stage of adolescence unfolds as a relatively new subject for modernist, and particularly Impressionist, painting around 1870 through the 1920s. As the sole American and one of few female artists to participate in the Impressionist exhibits, Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) adopted a remarkably distinct approach to painting female adolescence. “Mary Cassatt, Impressionism, & La Jeune Fille: Defining 19th Century ‘Girlhood’” positions Cassatt and her artwork in relationship to emerging discourses on modernity and adolescence in the fields of modern art and modern psychology, both in France and the United States. The adolescent girl, for Cassatt, was a studied portrait; she was the artist’s construed embodiment of a composite of influences, that ranged from American reform movements to the studios of French Impressionist painters. As this thesis explores, the concept of female adolescence was pervasive among American psychologists, notably G. Stanley Hall, as well as feminist educators and reformers, including Theodate Pope Riddle and Mary Hillard Robbins. These individuals were a part of Cassatt’s circle, as revealed in the artist’s correspondence. By connecting her work to broader scientific and social developments, this thesis presents her work as engaged in public issues and debates beyond her family and beyond the home. It places Cassatt’s paintings in a context that goes beyond biography. In so doing, it seeks to recover the independence of her work and ideas. Cassatt was an unconventional woman, but the unconventional nature of her paintings has not yet been fully understood. This thesis proposes to do so by examining the intersection of modernity, modern aesthetics, and constructions of adolescence., 2019, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
deBoer, Anne Elizabeth (Anne Elizabeth deBoer) (Author), (Joseph Siry) (Thesis advisor)
A critical analysis of the literature on sustainable architecture through Sir Norman Foster's use of water technologies., 2012, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/810, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Katzin, Jeffrey James (Jeffrey James Katzin) (Author), (Katherine Kuenzli) (Thesis advisor)
Barnett Newman's "Stations of the Cross" series consists of fourteen abstract paintings created between 1958 and 1966, and is one of the artist's most unique works. This essay advances a new understanding of the "Stations" as concerned with destabilization of visual perception and the nature of human suffering, incorporating the elements of seriality and content which have been overlooked by pervious scholars. This is accomplished through direct dialogue with previous arguments, discussion of the Christian devotion after which the series was named, in-depth consideration of Newman's writings and statements, and a rigorous analysis of the fourteen paintings themselves. It is found that the "Stations of the Cross," while abstract and stark in appearance, are complex and full of meaning., 2010, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/550, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Burzinski, Alexa Marie (Alexa Marie Burzinski) (Author), (Claire Grace) (Thesis advisor)
Ed Ruscha’s photo books are among some of the most puzzling art objects produced in America during the 1960s and 70s. Each title reads like a set of instructions, usually consisting of a quantity (whether an exact number or a quantitative adjective) followed by a tangible, countable subject, which, in Ruscha’s case, ranges from gas stations to crackers to artificial plants. Though they appear to conform to the standard conventions of bound paperback volumes, and are nearly indistinguishable from any other one might find on a bookshelf, Ruscha's book projects of the 60s and 70s have come to be recognized as crucial to photography's development, encouraging new conceptual approaches to the medium and heightening interest in analyzing the built landscape.
Ruscha produced sixteen photo books between 1963 and 1978 in large editions of several hundred or thousand using high-speed professional presses, all of which were available for a relatively nominal price. Six of them incorporate the topography of Los Angeles, the artist’s adopted city including his first, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), and his third, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), both arguably the artist’s most well known, as well as the most frequently addressed in the literature on Ruscha. Since their appearance in the mid-1960s, both have been situated into traditions ascribed to Pop, photo-documentary and conceptual art practices, but uncomfortably so in each case. Despite the wealth of scholarship on these books, they make fruitful case studies for addressing what has been, more or less, an overlooked question: what reading of 1960s greater Los Angeles do Ruscha’s photo books actually perform?
In my project I propose a new reading of Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip, one that investigates them in the context of theories on postmodern architecture and the urban experience. I offer a new term to describe them: postmodern topography. Using this definition and the writings of Fredric Jameson, Jean Baudrillard , Reyner Banham and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip theorize his term I have proposed.
Considering their inability to fit within existing terminology, Ruscha’s books are defined by contradiction, embodying a sort of “both/and” quality that both embraces and rejects the postmodern urban experience. In the case of postmodern topography: Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip appear to celebrate Los Angeles’s freeway system, as does Banham, yet Ruscha withholds the visual representation of roads and cars from his readers. While they seem to anticipate Venturi and Scott Brown’s conception of sign culture, the absence of cars and highways seems to void this, as well. While they seem to confirm Baudrillard and Jameson’s dystopic views of postmodern society, they also pose formal qualities that do not solely adhere to their grammar of flatness and surface. While the photographs contained within them are flattened, as well, the books themselves assume an architectural character that challenges this conception.
Postmodern topography embodies these books’ proclivity for tension and contradiction. Seeing that it is contradictory itself, it is only fitting that a curious term is used to define these equally curious publications. Taking this into account, Ruscha’s decision to publish books at the time at which he did seems to suggest that Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip comment on a particular time and place, that being Los Angeles in the 1960s., 2015, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/1416, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Study of Sandro Botticelli’s graphic oeuvre – his drawings for the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) specifically – has long been at issue and unfrequented in art historical study, due in large to the transmission of the artist’s problematic biography and a lack of technical study of the art objects themselves. By first disassembling Botticelli’s complex historiographic inheritance, originally subverted by Giorgio Vasari, this study brings into question the accuracy of primary artistic biography, and the role it still plays in modern scholarship. By then examining and synthesizing the drawings’ material properties, with the incorporation of quantitative and digital media methodologies, this project offers a deconstruction of the “ideal” Renaissance, artistic process, as inherited by Vasari. These analyses in historical, rhetorical transmission, when combined with material evidence, propose instead that the artist worked according to an unsystematic, nonlinear method of production that seeks to elevate Botticelli’s graphic output and edify his modern biography., 2017, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/1763, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
de Verteuil, Louise Magdalene (Louise Magdalene de Verteuil) (Author), (Joseph Siry) (Thesis advisor)
In recent years, Italy has relied on private sponsors, particularly those in the fashion industry, to preserve its cultural heritage. In 2015, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan participated in this tradition when Prada, Versace, Feltrinelli, and Alessandro Rosso offered to sponsor its restoration in preparation of the world’s fair that was held that same year. This thesis contends that a better explanation of the Galleria’s current cultural meaning and the significance of its most recent renovation in 2015, might be achieved through an understanding of the cultural contributions of the Milanese exhibition tradition.
In my first chapter, I would like present the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II as a product of the Milanese exposition that took place in 2015. This will be done through a comparison of Turinese and Milanese exhibition practices in order to establish the origins and distinctive qualities of Milanese modernity. This historical background will then allow for a more meaningful analysis of the planning of the 2015 Expo. This chapter will conclude with an evaluation of the event and how it drew upon and echoed the values and history of the Galleria. In my second chapter, I will study the Galleria’s restoration process as a reflection of Milanese modernity, that is of Milanese craft. This chapter will begin with a discussion of art conservation practices in Italy and their development over time. This will be followed by a second discussion concerning the impact of private sponsorship on restoration and will argue that the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an example of how the two forces, conservation and sponsorship, can be successfully combined. This combination of the Galleria’s restoration methods and supporting sponsorship will thus be presented as the reasons for the project’s success. In my third and final chapter, I will discuss the marketing strategy that accompanied the restoration and the ways in which the curation of the space participated in the revival of this Milanese civic identity. This will be achieved through an examination of the different levels of patronage that the Galleria attracts, national, municipal, and local, and the site’s ability to curate to each. This thesis ultimately proves that the Galleria’s restoration successfully revived the arcade’s status as a historical monument to Milanese civic identity and, in so doing, promoted a new Milanese tradition concerning for fashion and art conservation., 2016, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/1554, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Codifications of Nationalism in Norwegian Art in the Nineteenth Century
Samios, Olivia Kylland (Olivia Kylland Samios) (author), (Katherine Kuenzli) (Thesis advisor), Wesleyan University Art History (Degree grantor)
In a period of unrest in Norway in the nineteenth century, artists were searching for a national art to reclaim the country’s sense of identity. A group known as the Lysaker Circle found a solution in uplifting the Norwegian peasant, the landscape, and the “primitive,” categorized as the “truly” Norwegian, untainted by foreign influences and highlighting the strength and originality of the Norwegian people. Members of the Lysaker Circle included playwright Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910), journal editor Gerhard Gran (1856-1925), composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), composter Thorvald Lammers (1841-1922), historian Ernst Sars (1835-1917), explorer Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), folklorist Moltke Moe (1859-1913), and art critic and historian Andreas Aubert (1851-1913). The visual artists of the group included Christian Skredsvig (1854-1924), Erik Werenskiold (1855-1938), Gerhard Munthe (1849-1929), Kitty Kielland (1843-1914), Eilif Peterssen (1852-1928), and Harriet Backer (1845-1932). This thesis concentrates on the art surrounding the Norwegian struggle for independence from Sweden. Norway and Sweden shared a dual monarch from 1814-1905, after four hundred years of joint rulership under Denmark. In essence, the Norwegian people did not have their own independent rulership since the medieval era. From the 14th century, Norway was a part of the Kalmar Union between Sweden, Norway, and Denmark until the 16th century, when it was incorporated into Denmark alone, under whose rule it remained until 1814, when Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden in the Treaty of Kiel in 1814.
During this union between Norway and Sweden, a period of self-discovery, the Norwegian people strove to find a culture and identity that was uniquely their own and free from the influences of its neighbors. In order to find and uplift a truly Norwegian culture, they turned to a time before the 14th century when Norway was an independent territory. In that process of looking back for a signifier of the future, Norwegians of the nineteenth century found a fascination with the peasant. The peasant embodied the characteristics Norwegians sought to promote and attributed to their society at its core: hardworking, humble, patriotic, and overall unique. This thesis examines a culmination of artists involved in a nationalist movement to create a Norwegian response to modernist trends, beginning in 1814 and ending in 1905, when Norway was granted independence.
The Lysaker Circle was an artist’s commune of sorts, beginning in the 1890s. They lived on the outskirts of Oslo in the village of Lysaker, close enough to the city to partake in the events of the urban intelligentsia while still living in the idyllic setting of the countryside where they could collaborate within their small community and paint the distinctly Norwegian countryside. The art produced by the Lysaker artists holds striking Norwegian qualities. Gehard Munthe was one of the leading artists of the group, mostly because of his innovations in the decorative arts and subsequent international recognition. Munthe’s interest in peasant craft and the “lower” or decorative arts of weaving is indicative of his search for a national and truly Norwegian modern art.
The artists of the Lysaker Circle sought to uplift this version of the peasant and the land the peasant lived on and the stories the peasant told. In their secluded rural oasis of Lysaker, they created works that were well received by critics in the big city, although they were at odds with the urban artists who were in favor of adopting broader European styles of art. The Lysaker Circle artists were even well received abroad when they exhibited in the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Throughout the nineteenth century in Norway, there is gradual shift from the National Romantic, that is a nostalgic art focusing on nature and national identity, to a New Romantic art, or nyromantik, which carried over the same sense of search for national identity but as a reaction against naturalism, towards the medieval and symbolism, and ultimately a shift toward the decorative. The Lysaker Circle was responding to the discoveries of the avant-garde, and deserve recognition as an important strain of Norwegian modernism., In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Thomas Heatherwick’s Ambiguous Sculpture Provokes the Public and Points to Conflict
Stewart Frizzell, Katherine Ann (Katherine Ann Stewart Frizzell) (author), (Joseph Siry) (Thesis advisor), Wesleyan University Art History (Degree grantor)
This thesis provides one with a distinct reading of the symbiotic and autonomous relationships involved in this specific arena, those that influence the way one feels while entering this big gaudy compound, and in turn, the smaller shiny Vessel itself. The work as a whole calls attention to how the public’s initial reception towards the novel Vessel has been thwarted and heavily impacted by the negative reputation of the entire encompassing space and the real-estate developers.
To provide the reader with an understanding of relevant historiographic issues and the essential components of an integrative public space, there is a summary of Stephen Carr’s and Rem Koolhaas’s viewpoints that they eloquently present in their respective books Public Space (1992) and Delirious New York (1977). The first chapter provides readers with necessary context about the rail lines and travel methods that existed on the site, before the Hudson Yards estate and the Vessel were created. Here, I write about the historical transformation of this lavish site and the recreational activities that exist on what was once strictly an industrial and labor-intensive arena. The second chapter describes the accessibility and visibility of the Vessel from the High Line, Heatherwick’s personal background and proceeding projects, and the Vessel’s intricate construction process. In the third chapter, the reader is pointed to other site-specific pieces that similarly obtained widespread public attention and shaped cultural landscapes—such as the Statue of Liberty, the sculptures at Rockefeller Center, the Red Steps in Times Square, and even iconic sculptural works outside of New York City including, the Titled Arc and the Chicago Bean. Through a discussion of these artworks, I aim to provide the reader with a comparative framework through which to view the Vessel, and to further support my formal analysis of the sculpture.
Finally, I examine the reasons why I believe Stephen Ross wanted to commission the Vessel, and sequentially, I compare the developer’s rationale with that of Heatherwick’s more informed beliefs about the substantial role that frequently visited art plays in the public sphere. I conclude by casting doubt on whether the Vessel is truly effective public art that integrates a diverse group of individuals. In my mind, the Vessel points to the competing priorities that the developers, artists, and visitors all have while thinking about the role of the entire site and the purpose of this specific abstract structure. Heatherwick, whether he intended to or not, produced a physically interconnected and weaving sculpture that symbolizes the conflicting visions, the conflicting interpretations, and the conflicting values that become apparent while in this mixed-use development.
My thesis offers a space to think about how the Vessel points to conflict, but, at the same time, this intricate structure does not provide the public with direct solutions on how to solve the issues that arise within this space, those such as cultural difference, economic disparity, and more generally, inequality and exclusivity. Heatherwick’s striking spiral structure showcases a state-of-the-art architectural style, and without a doubt, this sculpture encourages the greater public to think critically. Often, aesthetic transformation and architectural structures call attention to larger, cultural problems and advancements needed to be made, and if an architect is lucky, at times, progressive structural implementations incite larger social change to occur., In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)