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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Color Field Painting in the Cultural Context of America
by Kajiya, Kenji, Ph.D., New York University, 2014, 517; 3614877
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation locates Color Field painting in the cultural context of post-war America. Focusing on five painters—Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Frank Stella—it explores how Color Field painting negotiated modernist art criticism, other artistic movements, and contemporary culture. Although Color Field painters were supported by Clement Greenberg, Michael Fried, and other modernist critics, this study argues that there were diverse discussions and exchanges involved in their evaluation and interpretations. The associative function of Color Field painting is especially considered among them. The relationship between Color Field painting and modernist art criticism is reexamined to show that it was never monolithic or unilateral. I argue that through their varied relationships with critics, Color Field painters had an active role in the formation of modernist art criticism. I also consider Color Field painting in relation to other contemporary art movements, such as Pop Art, Op Art, and Minimal Art. I discuss how several key exhibitions in the 1960s emphasized their shared interests, despite their overt differences when seen from today's vantage point. To this end, I consider the common ground shared by Color Field painters and minimalists, such as the issue of non-composition, and Stella's dual position in both camps, in addition to the minimalists' interest in some of the Color Field painters. Last, I consider Color Field painting from a cultural viewpoint, including its association with commodities and mechanical reproduction and its use in interior design for private homes. The viewing experience of Color Field painting is compared with that of widescreen cinema in terms of its enveloping effect on the viewer. I discuss the ways in which Color Field painting, due to its simple colors and designs, incited interior designers to imitate Color Field paintings in products that went beyond the field of art in the 1970s. Through these investigations, this dissertation portrays the complexity of Color Field painting in a broader pattern of twentieth-century American modernization and modernity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lubar, Robert S.
Commitee: Crow, Thomas, McCredie, James R., Slifkin, Robert, Soucek, Priscilla P.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Art history
Keywords: 20th-century american painting, 20th-century modern art, Art criticism, Color field painting, Interior decoration, Modernism in art
Publication Number: 3614877
ISBN: 978-1-303-80571-4
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