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Colin Trodd

Chapter 1 addresses the critical and conceptual conditions in which Brown developed the Manchester murals, paying specific attention to how these works responded to debates about social experience and collective life. It explains how Brown made use of Carlyle’s theory of historical representation when identifying painting with the transmission of living human expression, and it goes on to explore why he contested the model of social life and nationhood associated with academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
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Colin Trodd

The introduction responds to the standard view that the Manchester murals are examples of liberalism by outlining Brown’s attitude to the material conditions of the Victorian art world. It goes on to argue that Brown saw the replication of artworks as a way of exercising some control over the production, distribution and consumption of his productions. To think in these terms was to define independence by recourse to the idea of the master craftsman, the figure who set out to orchestrate the development and supply of artefacts. This sentiment – where the artist must struggle to assert authority over the things he or she wants to produce, to ascribe value for them – was an important aspect of Brown’s artistic character, since it encouraged him to believe that he could contest cultural liberalism by demonstrating the rights of expressive labour over the power of capital.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Chapter 2 begins with a lengthy consideration of some of the external reasons for the development of Brown’s ideas about painting. It provides a detailed picture of Brown’s understanding of, and engagement with, Victorian society. It pays close attention to his connections with national culture and popular radicalism, and considers his affinities with the Foggo brothers, W. J. Linton, and other overlooked radical artists from the 1830s and 1840s. It examines Brown’s Diary, which is filled with important discussions of art, politics and society. It goes on to consider the twists, turns and leaps of his career. The concluding part of the chapter shows how melodrama provides a meaningful critical context for explaining how Brown attempted to reconfigure the social activist aesthetic of the 1830s and 1840s.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Among the many issues addressed in the first section of this chapter is how the murals provide a vision of the distinctive pathology of British historical life, and the extent to which this attitude is derived from Romantic discourse, which equated modernity with the victory of a culture of possessive individualism over the tradition of community life. The second section of the chapter considers how the model of human wealth outlined by the Romantics, and then continued by Morris and other members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, relates to Brown’s murals, which give attention to human relationships, social trust and the transformation of inner life.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

The first part of this chapter looks at different critical models of Manchester in Victorian culture and politics. It pays particular attention to the writings of Thomas Carlyle, who shaped Brown’s interest in the outsiders of official history. The second part of the chapter, which provides a set of detailed readings of the first four murals in the scheme, argues that Brown’s designs are united by an ambition to probe the critical spaces and meanings of academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

The first part of this chapter looks at different critical models of Manchester in Victorian culture and politics. It pays particular attention to the writings of Thomas Carlyle, who shaped Brown’s interest in the outsiders of official history. The second part of the chapter, which provides a set of detailed readings of the first four murals in the scheme, argues that Brown’s designs are united by an ambition to probe the critical spaces and meanings of academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
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Prophecy to Sun Woman I
Griselda Pollock

Returning to Lee Krasner’s battle with Prophecy and its masculinist ghosts – Picasso, Pollock, de Kooning – as well as to the Irigarayan metaphor of dancing space, Pollock discovers jouissance both in Krasner’s working through of the challenge and in terms of a freedom made possible by the emergence of a dancing space in her gestural abstraction, a rhythm in the gestures, a different kind of evocation of and being with a clearly feminine corporeality. The battle between Killing (as creativity, Bataille) and Dying (as psychic condition occasioned by real loss and mourning) is displaced by a third theoretical engagement with the contrasting theorizations of sexual difference by Julia Kristeva and Bracha L. Ettinger. Reviewing the trajectory of Lee Krasner’s painting practice in both personal and historical terms, Pollock considers her struggle with the knowledge of the racialized genocide of the Jewish communities of Europe explored by Robert Hobbs as her ‘crisis of witnessing’. She reviews Krasner’s long creative practice according to Bataille’s thesis on hybridity and decomposition in modernism. Through several psychoanalytical theories of the subject and the discourse of sexual difference in popular culture, Pollock moves from ‘Marilyn’ to ‘Jackson’ and back, opening up a space in which to read the paintings of ‘Lee’ as ‘female creation’ (Kristeva) that was ecstatic, funny, intellectually intense, artistically acute and creatively violent at times, thus revealing the semiotic possibilities and historical conditions of a relation between creativity and femininity that did not involve massacre but continual openness to radical aesthetic exploration.

in Killing Men & Dying Women
Griselda Pollock

Starting with wordplay on the terms of the title, killing, dying and dy(e)ing, invoking violence as a force in both creativity and psychic life leads into a discussion of the thesis proposed by the French Surrealist writer Georges Bataille that renovation in art was grounded in the deadly energy of destruction. This is compared to Clement Greenberg’s equally eliminationist thesis that in modern art each art form hunts its identity back through its medium. Both raise questions of the Oedipal competition with the Father and the drama of loss of the Mother. Pollock discusses feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey’s creative reclamation, for feminism, of the myth of Pandora’s box as a thesis on feminist curiosity and desire to knowledge. She notes the conjunction of Monroe’s annus mirabilis in Hollywood cinema, in 1953, the year of Kinsey’s report on female sexual behaviour and the first issue of Playboy with Monroe on the cover, and she follows Monroe to Korea, where she sang for the GIs as they guarded the peace after the Cold War stand-off at the end of the Korean War. The author juxtaposes Monroe’s celebrity to that of Jackson Pollock. Between these two incommensurate icons of the 1950s, structural binaries were reified: high art and popular culture, painting and cinema, art and commodity, authenticity and artifice, masculinity and femininity. Within this opposition, which was also a structural complementarity, painting – as opposed to dy(e)ing – women were caught in dilemmas and riddles posed by the gender polarities of that culture, which were inevitably the very form of these divisions.

in Killing Men & Dying Women
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Griselda Pollock

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.

in Killing Men & Dying Women
Griselda Pollock

This chapter explores further structural/semiotic/psychoanalytical readings of abstract painting and the inherent instability of psychic gender it enacts though a discussion of hysteria that opens the subject to oscillating identification – ‘Am I a man? Am I a woman?’ – as well as the anxiety of non-being: ‘Am I dead or living?’ When creating, does the masculine artist, structurally, psychically, hysterically identify with the Mother as both the Ur-figure of creator, or battle with the Mother as the Other from which he, as a masculinized subject, has been severed by the Oedipally decreed abjection of the maternal body and by the resulting Oedipal formation of his masculine subjectivity through identification and rivalry with the Father? If making art by men is theorized as hysterical, this destabilizes gender ideologies that heroize artist-men. The maternal remains a ghost in the artwork, momentarily taking centre stage in the history of art c. 1950 when the expanse of canvas awaiting the gesturing mark of the artist confronted artists, both men and women, as the maternal other. Painting became a dynamic contest between marking as self-realizing and surface as otherness, as maternal parent, as ‘world without me’. This stages a psycho-aesthetic drama of the subject, the ordeal of sexual difference for the masculine as well as the feminine artist-subject, who too must deal with the maternal, as both creator-m/Other (Ettinger’s matrixial supplement) and the Oedipal Mother in a different configuration of identification and escape. Artist-women’s engagement in gestural abstraction enabled them to participate aesthetically and formally in the drama of emerging subjectivity and of fluid, hysterical sexual difference with differentiated psychic investments in the feminine-maternal m/Other/Mother in variably sexual and psycho-corporeally differentiated relation to the maternal and hence to their own sexuated singularity ‘in, of and from the feminine’.

in Killing Men & Dying Women