Performing a Brushstroke. Pop paintings on Abstract Expressionism
Keywords:Performativity, Abstract Expressionism, brushstroke, art criticism, Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, David Hockney
This paper aims at a queer reading of some mid-1960s Pop Art paintings, whose more or less direct subject is the Abstract Expressionist brushstroke. Queer hermeneutical instruments, like the concept of performativity, can account the strategies set up by Pop artworks in order to deconstruct the essentialist meanings associated to the image of the thick, gestural brushstroke typical of Abstract Expressionism. All along the Fifties and Sixties, details of abstract painting spread and got a centrality due to Rosenberg’s and Greenberg’s pervasive critical systems about painting. The former interpreted the brushstroke as the direct expression of the life and the action of the painter; the latter, as the “nature” of painting itself as pure color on surface. Countering this critical rhetoric, Lichtenstein artificially constructed flat images of the Expressionist brushstroke; Dine put into question its status of representation or reality; Rosenquist formulated food-like metaphors of abstraction, stressing its popularization in the mass media, and overturned the rhetoric of “natural” expressionist creation; Hockney camouflaged photographic figuration as a form of “drag abstraction”.
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