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How to Make a Past: Painting since Reinhardt

Sheleg, Moran; (2017) How to Make a Past: Painting since Reinhardt. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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The recent resurgence of critical interest in the practice of painting has yielded significant attempts to move beyond pre-millennial debates over its apparent demise following the failure of modernism and the triumph of advanced capitalism. Yet, in trying to counter the loss of art’s autonomy as brought about by postmodernism and the ‘post-medium condition’, these accounts have often over-emphasised the persistence of indexicality through painting’s digital turn as its last hideout in an increasingly abstracted world. Complicating this premise, my thesis explores how artists have, since the mid-twentieth century, mined the relationship between painting, its past and the psycho-social space of perception through means other than the symbolic brushstroke. To this end, rather than a dialectical structure of deadlocked binaries, painting is here reimagined as a way of making patterns through time. That is, instead of a linear story of cause and effect, painting comprises a vast array of parallel trajectories. In the first two chapters I examine the roles played by exhibition design and colour within Ad Reinhardt’s retrospective attempts to make such a pattern out of (and for) his work, before going on to track further examples across a transatlantic set of practices begun during the supposed watershed for painting instigated by the 1960s. Examining works and writings by Bridget Riley, Jo Baer and Patrick Caulfield alongside Reinhardt’s own, this thesis spans an extended moment in which the concept of painting’s life-cycle gave way to alternative paradigms cutting across the stylistic and ideological imperatives still shaping its discussion today. Reframing mainstays of modern art such as the monochrome, the grid and the arabesque as primary tools in painting’s historical reformulation, rather than primal sites of its undoing, I conclude by considering how painting’s current ubiquity might in turn remake the patterns of its past.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: How to Make a Past: Painting since Reinhardt
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Images have been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040550
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