Modernist cultural critique: The visual arts and anthropology
Hill, Diana Louise
Fischer, Michael M. J.
Master of Arts
This thesis juxtaposes the comparable development of the written discourse surrounding three twentieth century modern art movements, Surrealism, American Abstract Expressionism and the performance art of Joseph Beuys, with that of cultural anthropology with regard to the role of each as cultural critique. This juxtaposition also examines the multiple layering suggested by the relationship between art, art history and art criticism to both, each other and to broader social and cultural arenas as comparable to that of anthropology to its 'other' as well as its own society. An anthropological analysis of the arts reveals their 'native' hermeneutic tradition and thus challenges anthropology to engage with realms of social discourse where it is not a privileged locus of interpretation. The crisis of representation faced by anthropology at present is compared to the crisis of subject matter which laid the foundation of modern art forty years ago.
Cultural anthropology; Fine arts; Anthropology