Erased, spoiled, obliterated, and defiled : young artists’ transition to maturity through marking and un-marking

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Date

2014-08

Authors

Hursh, Asa William

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Abstract

At certain moments in the creative development of an artist, experimentation leads to creative acts that on their face can appear negative because they are the actions of a young artist responding to the establishment. This thesis is an investigation of such works: a spoiled print, an erased drawing, a set of artist proofs stained by paint, and a painting wiped away with turpentine. Despite these negations, each of these works was pivotal to the career of its respective artist, and they were immediately cited by their makers as works of consequence. The four selected art works did not influence one another and the circumstances surrounding their creation are also distinct. Each work and artist developed independently from one another, in distinct spaces and times. However, there are notable parallels among the works. Each was created as the artist transitioned into the mature phase of his career. Additionally, each of the works is a layering of distinct images. The sub-images relate to an external artist, style, or dogma, and the superimposed image relates to the artist’s own work and his mature style. Further, each of the works is an indexical record of the artist’s activity. Each emphasizes the artist’s hand in the making of the super-image’s mark and even goes so far as to highlight the performative nature of the mark making. The marks of the super-image are so pronounced as the subject of each work and the performative element so emphasized that the artist himself is drawn into the work’s subject matter. In short, I investigate whether these images function as a commentary, a critique, a declaration, or simply as part of a process and a dialogue between the artist and his artistic environment.

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