Collaborated Lives: Individualism and Collectivity in the San Francisco Avant-Garde, 1950-1965


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This dissertation examines the San Francisco avant-garde, a community of artists who lived in the city's Fillmore District from 1955-1965. It investigates how, in this circle, artistic collaboration evolved into a means of social performance—an activity the artists used to construct and act out their relationships to one another. Adapting methods from literary and performance studies, this project develops an approach to analyzing these intimate and intertextual practices that elude art history's definitions of “work” and “artistic identity.” This study contends that collaboration allowed the community to imagine and experience more complex relationships between the individual and the collective than were generally permitted in Cold-War American art and society.