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Norman Lewis, Ad Reinhardt, Adolph Gottlieb, Dorothy Dehner: Our Pictographic and Skeuomorphic Era

April 17, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

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Andrianna Campbell-LaFleur joins us from Yale University for our second talk in the spring Muscarelle Explorations series, Modern Masters at the Margins.

Painters such as Norman Lewis, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Dorothy Dehner looked to notational stand-ins for meaning. The stick figures and simplified marks were graphic interfaces developed to be capable pictorial descriptors of more complex language systems. Interested in the research of anthropologists such as Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mead and post-structuralist anthropologists such as Claude Levi-Strauss, artists paired these ideas with instinctive line-making. For them this pairing of rational and id-based notation systems were places of universal sympathetic convergence. As explored in the writings of Francis O’Connor, Anne Gibson, and I revisit here, the pictograph also evolved alongside an interest in technology, and systems theory in the 1930-1950s. This paper explores abstract expressionist artists less seduced by unintelligibility and less inspired by surrealist chimeric marginalia while moving to a future of emotional immediacy in the field of pictorial skeuomorphic understanding.

This event will take place in Washington Hall 201. Register to receive a parking pass by email. Street parking is also available along Richmond Road.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Andrianna Tamara Campbell specializes in the history of art in the modern and contemporary period. Her doctoral research focused on Norman Lewis and Abstract Expressionism. Alongside her scholarly research, she is the author of essays and reviews on contemporary art for catalogues and journals. In 2014-2017, Campbell was a co-editor of Shift: A Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture and for the International Review of African American Art dedicated to Norman Lewis. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including a Yale Presidential Research Award 2021-2023, the Dean K. Harrison Fellowship, the Preservation of American Modernists Award, the Library Fellowship from the American Philosophical Society, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Dia Art Foundation, the Dissertation Writing Fellowship at the New York Public Library and the CASVA Twelve-Month Chester Dale Fellowship from the National Gallery of Art for 2016-2017. In 2020, she received her Ph.D. in the History of Art from The Graduate and University Center of the City University of New York. She is currently writing a book about the art world between 2001-2017. Photo: Andrianna Campbell-LaFleur with Peter Bradley playing Miles Davis’s blue trumpet. Photo by Shanna Farrell


April 17, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Andrianna Campbell-LaFleur


Washington Hall
241 Jamestown Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185 United States
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