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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this chapter is to consider how art history might use psychoanalysis and aesthetics to approach the question of feeling in late modern art. The confluence of psychoanalysis and aesthetics is not only the most promising site for creating this approach, it becomes an essential site of methodological generation given that from the latter half of the twentieth century art history itself has had little to say about feeling.3 In art-historical writings the heyday of this concept lies in the past in the

use of the/her body, in abstracted and carefully contrived forms, facilitates recognition, interest and pleasure. But the threats to the figures’ existence, coupled with her use of mild disorientation, also make the viewer mildly apprehensive and uneasy. This complicated combination makes possible not only her depiction of the ambivalence of emotional ties, but also a substantial reworking of the capacities of conceptual-art language. Mendieta’s method of stirring up, yet quelling and containing,

positioning. These important issues have not been my concern in this book; they are, of course, very well canvassed elsewhere. In terms of my focus here, the refraction of the question of the subject through the lens of gender, race or ethnicity has the most bearing on the kinds of models of subjectivity that are offered by their practices. One can read both artists as offering feminist models of the subject, but ones that stand as different kinds of correctives. Mendieta’s work proposes a

Alexander Alberro had been explaining how the minimalist artist Donald Judd contributed to the dismantling of the time-honoured link between subjectivity and art. According to Alberro, Judd eliminated, among other things, the ‘transcendental investment from the work of art’ and this, Alberro argues, was ‘an important step in the process toward the dismantling of subjectivity from the work itself ’.2 This idea that minimalism dismantled subjectivity, or eliminated it from the work of art, is a

36, 45, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 65, 66, 69, 71, 73, 78, 93, 99, 103, 105, 109, 112, 114, 122, 139, 140, 143, 159, 164 and affect, 37, 69, 112, 160 and feeling, 48, 65, 139 collective. See Clark, Lygia crying, 110–11 female, 10, 94, 101, 106, 123, 144 fragmentation in modern art, 73–74 gesture, 64, 93, 106 in participatory art, 9, 47, 57 revitalization of. See Clark, Lygia therapy. See Clark, Lygia Bois, Yve-Alain, 9, 49, 52, 59, 72, 76, 117, 156 critique of Eva Hesse, bodily allusion in, 84

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