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Title:Reexamining 1930s American Art: The 'Realisms' of Archibald Motley, Jr. And Reginald Marsh
Author(s):Wolfskill, Phoebe Elizabeth
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fineberg, Jonathan
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Black Studies
Abstract:"Realism" as a stylistic category has often been read within modernist narratives as a call-to-order, one that arises during a time of political and social instability in order to offer a vision of composure and orderliness. I contend, however, that Motley and Marsh used realism to comment on its own inherent instability; these two artists employed fantasy, distortion, and self-reference in their work in order to expose realism as decidedly non-mimetic and in need of close scrutiny. In doing so, they also pointed to the precarious social, political, and economic situation facing the United States in the 1930s. I suggest that the stylistically and conceptually complex realisms of these two artists reflect the disorder and upheaval not only of the social environments they depicted, but also of the pictorial space itself. While Motley and Marsh were not alone in these pursuits, I present them as ideal models for assessing the complexity of figurative work and the relevance of representational concerns beyond illustration and propagandistic motivations during the 1930s. By evaluating their paintings, prints, photographs, sketchbooks, letters, and essays alongside the artistic works and essays of Depression-era artists, critics, and scholars and more recent scholarship on the period, I create a broader and more pictorially-oriented study of Depression-era realism.
Issue Date:2006
Description:359 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3243025
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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