History of Art - Doctoral Theses

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    From Mars to Kassandra: the memorialisation of World War I in the work of Otto Dix
    (University College Cork, 2018) Murray, Ann; Kriebel, Sabine Tania; Irish Research Council
    This thesis argues that the memorialisation of World War I in the work of German artist and soldier Otto Dix (1891-1969) challenged Germany’s prevailing social and political attitudes to war and militarism, demanding action against growing public support for militarist politics in the late Weimar Republic. Scholarship has dwelt on the art-historical context of Dix’s war pictures but not their interaction with the socio-political context, specifically in Dresden, where Dix worked, and where numerous extreme right-wing cultural and political groups were active. The thesis focuses on some battlefield pictures and two triptychs, Metropolis (1928) and War (1929 1932) relating them to the broader visual culture of war in order to assess Dix’s strategies as a transgressive commemorative artist. The relationship between Dix and Dresden’s extreme right-wing groups has been largely overlooked; yet, as the thesis reveals, the extreme Right’s negative reception of Dix’s work significantly complicates the terms by which his art is understood. Employing the methods of the social history of art, the thesis establishes the meaning of these works within their social, political and artistic context. Chapter I reconstructs Dix's first public showing in a soldiers’ art exhibition in Dresden in 1916 in order to trace the artist’s development as an incisive memoriographer of war. Chapter II treats nationalist art, artists and extreme right-wing criticism in Dresden in exploring the provocative nature of Dix’s appropriation and adaptation of the traditional styles and techniques lauded by the extreme Right. Chapter III looks at the role of the triptych Metropolis in catalysing right-wing art criticism during a major exhibition in Dresden in 1928. The final chapter focuses on the relative failure of the triptych War as antithetical to militarist culture, as based on the quantity and quality of its reception at the Prussian Academy in 1932.
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    Pedem referens: art historical memory and the analogue in the work of Tacita Dean, Jeremy Millar and Lucy Skaer
    (University College Cork, 2016) North, Kirstie; Boggi, Flavio; Krcma, Edward John
    This thesis explores the new art historical turn in contemporary art through close engagement with three British artworks. These are Tacita Dean’s, Section Cinema (Homage to Marcel Broodthaers), 2002, Jeremy Millar’s, The Man Who Looked Back, 2010, and Lucy Skaer’s, Leonora, 2006. Each of these artworks combines an art historical agenda with a celebration of the specificities of analogue film and photography in the context of our digital age. This thesis combines twentieth century photographic theory from Roland Barthes, André Bazin and Walter Benjamin, among others, with the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan in order to argue that the indexical qualities of analogue film and photography place the medium in close proximity to the Lacanian Real. In its obsolescence the analogue’s language of both touch and loss is heightened. Each chapter of this thesis explores a different aspect of the Real in relation to specific attributes of the analogue, such as its propensity for archiving cultural traumas, its receptiveness to chance, and its proximity to death.
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    Nancy Spero: pain and politics, 1966-1976
    (University College Cork, 2016) Warriner, Rachel; Krcma, Edward John; Irish Research Council
    The ten-year period that started with Nancy Spero’s War Series (1966-70) and ended with the completion of Torture of Women (1974-6) were of vital importance to the development of this key figure of feminist art. This was the moment when Spero turned her focus to politics, departing from a practice that was concerned with personal disaffection, instead focusing on profoundly social concerns. Essential to this evolution is a focus on pain. From the War Series through the Artaud Paintings (1970-71), Codex Artaud (1971-2), and Torture of Women, pain, both internal and external, was imagined in multiple forms. In Spero’s explorations of the theme, pain becomes metaphoric of the experience of women living under patriarchy, an amorphous but still profoundly disabling sensation that attacks both body and mind. This thesis explores Spero’s use of physical pain during moment of feminist art’s emergence, seeing it as a political metaphor for the way in which patriarchy invisibly controls and undermines women. Framed broadly by the question of art's relationship with politics during this turbulent period of anti-war and feminist activism, this thesis closely examines the way in which an analogy to pain figures the body in the work in complex terms, pursuing an ideological ambition through recourse to feeling.