Visualizing Feeling: Affect and the Feminine Avant-garde

Visualizing Feeling: Affect and the Feminine Avant-garde

Susan Best

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 1780767099

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Is late modern art 'anti-aesthetic'? What does it mean to label a piece of art 'affectless'? These traditional characterizations of 1960s and 1970s art are radically challenged in this subversive art history. By introducing feeling to the analysis of this period, Susan Best acknowledges the radical and exploratory nature of art in late modernism. The book focuses on four highly influential female artists--Eva Hesse, Lygia Clark, Ana Mendieta and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha--and it explores how their art transformed established avant-garde protocols by introducing an affective dimension. This aspect of their work, while often noted, has never before been analyzed in detail. Visualizing Feeling also addresses a methodological blind spot in art history: the interpretation of feeling, emotion and affect. It demonstrates that the affective dimension, alongside other materials and methods of art, is part of the artistic means of production and innovation. This is the first thorough re-appraisal of aesthetic engagement with affect in post-1960s art.

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Untitled or Not Yet, 1966 27 Lygia Clark, Camisa-de-força (Straight Jacket), 1969 vi Best_Prelims.indd vi 51 53 60 62 64 70 75 77 79 80 83 85 96 97 98 101 102 103 104 126 129 129 130 131 132 141 142 6/10/2011 5:04:38 PM Acknowledgements I have accumulated many debts of gratitude in the course of writing this book. In the first instance, I owe much to a master class on feminism and psychoanalysis run by Margaret Whitford at Macquarie University in 1997. It opened my eyes to the breadth and

are not necessarily distinct and many articles seem to combine contradictory responses in a manner worthy of Freud’s ‘kettle logic’.45 For example, Max Kozloff calls minimalism ‘zombie art’, suggesting that he views minimalism as dead or deadening, and yet he also argues that the works are aggressive.46 Perreault similarly describes Robert Morris’ works as ‘subliminal in their aggressiveness’, while also asserting that minimalism as a whole can be characterized as pleasurable.47 Brian O’Doherty

interaction, this contact between living or lively surfaces. In July 1959 in Jornal do Brasil Clark emphasizes the temporal aspect of this hinge space, calling the duration opened up ‘line-time’.15 Clark indicates that she began to deploy this idea in her Modulated Space series. These works have what she called an ‘external-line’: white lines edging, and sometimes penetrating, completely black surfaces. The edging lines waver between belonging to the picture plane and dissolving into the real

She is highly critical of the return of the sublime promoted by Best_Ch06.indd 118 6/10/2011 5:03:51 PM the dream of the audience 119 Lyotard, which had a high level of currency in the Anglophone art discourses of the early 1980s. According to her view, Lyotard’s reinvigoration of the sublime is completely opposed to what she aptly terms the ‘deflationary impulse’ that unites minimalism and feminist art.7 Iversen casts the sublime as a return of heroic (masculine) modernism, noting how

borderline’, p. 81 61. Clark: ‘On the fantastic reality’, p. 220 62. Lygia Clark, ‘Letter to Helio Oiticica’ (1968), Lygia Clark, p. 236 63. Clark: ‘On the fantastic reality’, p. 220 64. Winnicott cited in Adam Phillips, Winnicott (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 80 65. ibid, p. 81 Best_Notes.indd 158 6/10/2011 5:04:30 PM notes 159 66. Guy Brett has noted this paradoxical pursuit of liberation by means of its opposite: binding, blocking, restricting. See Brett: ‘Lygia

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