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Frank O’Hara Abroad: Curatorship, Cosmopolitanism & The Cold War

Holman, Matthew James; (2021) Frank O’Hara Abroad: Curatorship, Cosmopolitanism & The Cold War. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Frank O’Hara is often regarded as the quintessential New York poet, and a key figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement that defined American art after the Second World War. The fact that he was also a cosmopolitan who travelled widely in Europe and was actively involved in the European cultural scene has received scant attention. This thesis recovers a sense of O’Hara as a poet who addressed the contemporary European cultural landscape in his travel and ekphrastic poetry, and who contributed to the debates around cosmopolitanism and nationalism in his art criticism and exhibition texts. Particular attention is paid to the crucial role O’Hara played as a mediator between American and European avant-garde art in the postwar period, as well as to two under-researched intermedia collaborations with then emerging artists: The New York Amsterdam Set, with Jan Cremer, and Words & Drawings, with Mario Schifano. This project is the first to consider in detail O’Hara’s distinguished curatorial career for The Museum of Modern Art’s International Program, which gave him access to art, artists and cities, and was essential to the shaping of his cosmopolitan aesthetics. It provides a number of case studies of exhibitions, including O’Hara’s curation of the American representation at the XXIX Venice Biennale (1958) and Documenta II (1959) which probes the disciplinary contiguity of poetry to curatorial practice. Frank O’Hara Abroad is inherently interdisciplinary, weaving together cultural history, art history and textual analysis. Broadly archival in its methodology, informed by material from over twenty collections in Europe and the United States, this thesis argues for O’Hara’s unique place within the global rise of postwar American art.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Frank O’Hara Abroad: Curatorship, Cosmopolitanism & The Cold War
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130493
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