Introduction
in Killing Men & Dying Women
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Why another take on Abstract Expressionism? Witnessing renewed interest in, exhibitions of and publications on abstract painting, and especially Lee Krasner, in New York in the 1950s, this book addresses painting and sexual difference, knowingly threading theory into reading artworks, explaining two major modernist theories of creativity through violence: symbolic killing. The introduction situates three events that formed Pollock as an art historian, explores the condition of art history now, and explains the necessity for feminist critique. This book asks how do we imagine and image difference in abstract painting? Pollock makes the case for feminist seeing and thinking to reassert the richness of art’s histories and to counter bland banality, hero-worship and speculative marketization of celebrity based on price tags. She poses questions of sexual difference through a range of philosophical and psychoanalytical models, challenging the current antipathy to sexual difference theory in the face of obligatory engagement with queer gender theory and the focus on intersectionality, race critique and diversity: both recognized as critical but not exclusive. Class issues, complex forms of ethnic and migratory diversity and the continuing significance of formations of subjectivity in relation to desire, phantasy and embodiment are being sidelined before we have adequately engaged or exhausted their political and theoretical potential for transformation. This book is also, therefore, an attempt to show why thinking about sexual difference does not reaffirm heterocracy and is not indifferent to diversity, while also being critical to understanding what happens in the acts of creation in art forms distilled into being acts, gestures by bodies not seeking to represent but to discover forms in which subjectivity-in-the-world-and-in-a-differentiated-body might tip into visibility or legibility.

Killing Men & Dying Women

Imagining difference in 1950s New York painting

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