Lee Ann Custer F'18

Lee Ann  Custer
Doctoral Candidate
History of Art
University of Pennsylvania
last updated: 2/24/2020

Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art 2018
Doctoral Candidate
History of Art
University of Pennsylvania
The Voids of New York: Spaces of the Modern Metropolis in American Art from Chase to O’Keeffe

This dissertation examines the architectural developments of the increasingly dense metropolis of turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York through its “voids”—three-dimensional negative spaces in the built environment—and argues that new artistic approaches to form, subject matter, and style were needed to capture them. Pairing pictured spaces with actual urban counterparts offers new insights into how structural, legal, and social realities of building affected the lived experience of the modern city. An analysis of works by William Merritt Chase, George Bellows, John Sloan, Alfred Stieglitz, and Georgia O’Keeffe reveals that these oft-contested and sociopolitically charged pockets of urban air—from public lawns to rear tenement yards—are embedded in the rich artistic culture of the time.