Declaring Space, Defining Place: Monumental Abstract Expressionism


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art and Art History, College of Fine Arts


This dissertation draws upon specific episodes during the postwar period where Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko moved from painting to constructing architectural environments. It investigates how the dissolution of easel painting into the realm of architecture proposes a new understanding of abstract expressionism as a total-body experience, tactile and active, in contradiction to the notion of the "pure gaze." It analyzes how these artists shifted the viewer's perceptual experience from pictorial space to the physical presence of actual space and anticipated specific concerns of 1960s Minimalism. This achievement redefines Pollock's, Newman's, and Rothko's legacy to the subsequent generation of artists and places their production into a much larger historical framework.