A House Divided: American Art since 1955

Overview


In this exhilarating book, Anne Middleton Wagner challenges readers to rethink the work of a range of post-World War II artists—Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Maya Lin, Bruce Nauman, and Agnes Martin among them—and thus to re-assess the relationship of art to politics and social life. The art of U.S. empire, she argues, is marked by deep dividedness. Painters and sculptors seemed entranced by American symbols, yet used them to enigmatic ends—exuberant, nightmarish, or both. Nor could postwar culture decide if it ...
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Overview


In this exhilarating book, Anne Middleton Wagner challenges readers to rethink the work of a range of post-World War II artists—Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Maya Lin, Bruce Nauman, and Agnes Martin among them—and thus to re-assess the relationship of art to politics and social life. The art of U.S. empire, she argues, is marked by deep dividedness. Painters and sculptors seemed entranced by American symbols, yet used them to enigmatic ends—exuberant, nightmarish, or both. Nor could postwar culture decide if it preserved sites devoted to productive withdrawal—for artists, the special zone called the studio—or simply maintained a margin where numbed subjects rehearsed the rites of vanished self-expression. This book charts the to-and-fro in recent American art between acknowledging the facts of nation and consumerism, and searching for meaningful models. And it shows that this process engages—even structures—national history and the citizen’s self.
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Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education

“I found myself reading certain passages aloud, reveling in their conversational pace and cadence, their gentle wordplays and puns.”
Zeteo (Cuny)

“The latter decades of the twentieth century were exciting, tumultuous years for the American art scene. . . . Anne Middleton Wagner captures a great deal of this tension and excitement in these pieces.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520270978
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 915,029
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


Anne Middleton Wagner is Class of 1936 Chair of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley and Henry Moore Foundation Research Curator at the Tate. She is the author of Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture and Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O’Keeffe (UC Press) among other books.
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Table of Contents


Introduction: Type Casting

Part I. A House Divided
1. Jasper Johns’s Flag
2. Andy Warhol’s Patriotism
3. Matta-Clark’s Cut
4. Maya Lin’s Memorial
5. Kara Walker’s History

Part II. A Place of Safety
6. David Smith: Heavy Metal
7. Flavin’s Limited Light
8. Nauman’s Body of Sculpture
9. Bourgeois Fantasy
10. How Eva Hesse Named Her Work
11. Agnes Martin: The Cause of the Response
12. Performance, Video, and the Rhetoric of Presence

Notes
Acknowledgments
List of Illustrations
Index

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