Minimal Art and Body Politics in New York City, 1961-75


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art


This dissertation assesses the urban forms of minimal art and the politics of the bodies organized by those forms. It studies the significance of the city and its modular architectures as a source of material, form, and logic in artists’ work and writing in 1960s-70s New York. In the early reception of this work, much critical rhetoric mirrored that of urban renewal. By the mid-1960s, minimal art’s urban references were occluded by the phenomenological discourse of the body, sensation, and perception. However, for many artists working in New York, as well as urban critics, theorists, and historians, the problem of the city was a problem of the body. The core phenomenological concerns of minimal art did not represent a turning away from the urban; rather minimal art’s phenomenology was a response to the crisis of the modern American city.