Tracing difference : drawing, intimacy and privacy in New York studio practice, 1963-1979
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This dissertation examines the shifting position of drawing from a private practice to a public one in experimental circles in 1960s and 1970s New York. While living and working in nearly-vacant industrial buildings in SoHo in this period, many young artists began making large line-based works that actively traced social space in some way. The works used architectural interiors, social gestures and conventions, and even the city itself as both their driving force and support. The project asks: Why, in the span of less than fifteen years, did so many art practitioners in New York incorporate drawing so extensively into their work? What did the disclosure of the act of drawing afford them? I contend that drawing offered a new counter-model for intimacy and interpersonal communication: one that did not require the maker or the viewer to be sovereign, distinct subjects, but in fact relied on their openness to external and provisional phenomena. Drawing became a discipline of intimacy, executed through athletic strategies and meant to solicit athletic modes of looking from the viewer. Three case studies form a survey of drawing and intimacy in this moment: Carolee Schneemann’s drawings as related to postwar performance and video art; Richard Tuttle’s sculptural drawings as demonstrative of new artist/collector relationships that centered on the studio; and William Anastasi’s engagements with drawing, chance, and urban space. In addition to clarifying the position of drawing in postwar American studio practice, my project charts the fragmentary critical fortunes of “the personal” in American life—what constituted a private act for whom, and at what cost.