"Cancelled Culture: Félix Vallotton’s Intimités."
Australian Journal of French Studies
Typically viewed as a curiosity within the artist’s œuvre, the unusual cancellation sheet for Félix Vallotton’s 1898 woodcut series Intimités is here reassessed as an integral part of the series and an artwork in its own right. After first situating Vallotton’s sheet within the ethical, commercial and ideological stakes of cancellation as a printmaking practice in nineteenth-century France, I then argue that the sheet functions as a uniquely decorative culmination of the series’ overall resistance to narrative. Finally, I conclude by re-examining the status of cancellation as a destructive, final act, proposing that it can instead be interpreted as a creative and generative process.
"New Rules for Old Age: Gavarni, the Goncourts, and Les Lorettes Vieillies."
Australian Journal of French Studies
This article examines caricaturist Paul Gavarni’s lithographic series, Les Lorettes vieillies, and Jules and Edmond de Goncourt’s short text, La Lorette, as two conflicting visions of the lorette, a type of nineteenth-century prostitute celebrated in literary and visual sources. The Goncourts’ text has previously been studied for its explicit aim to break the rules around representing the lorette; however, I propose here that Gavarni’s little-known images were in fact more radical. Exploring the ways in which Les Lorettes vieillies humanizes the experience of the ageing lorette, a taboo topic in other sources, I show how the series challenges society’s norms around age and gender. Finally, I suggest that we should consider Les Lorettes vieillies, published at the same time and in the same newspaper as La Lorette, as an important intertext informing the Goncourts’ own presentation of the lorette as a transgressive figure.
"The Needle and the Pen: Etching and the Goncourt Brothers’ Novels."
Nineteenth-Century French Studies
48.3-4 (June 2020): 294-311.
This article examines Jules and Edmond de Goncourt’s novels in the context of the nineteenth-century etching revival and the brothers’ personal experience as aquafortistes, proposing that their engagement with etching influenced their novels in three ways. First, it suggests that the fragmented narrative, structure, and style of the Goncourts’ novels draw on the same principles as nineteenth-century print albums, which similarly emphasized discontinuity and juxtaposition. Secondly, an investigation of the brothers’ use of Charles Méryon’s etchings in their novel Manette Salomon reveals their interest in both textual transpositions of Méryon’s style and the literary topos associated with his work. Finally, the article concludes by exploring how the Goncourt brothers incorporated vocabulary and techniques from etching into their écriture artiste, moving beyond prior readings of their novels in relation to painting and demonstrating the diversity of artistic inspiration for their writing.
"The Wenceslaus Hollar collection of Sidney T. Fisher, and catalogue by Richard Pennington."
Journal of the History of Collections
The comprehensive collection of prints by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677) donated by Sidney T. Fisher to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto ranks alongside the collections in London, Prague and Windsor. Based on the extensive unpublished correspondence between Sidney Fisher and Richard Pennington preserved in Toronto, this article describes the formation of Fisher’s Hollar collection and Pennington’s work towards ‘A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etched Work of Wenceslaus Hollar, 1607–1677’ (Cambridge, 1982). The activities of Pennington as an agent for Fisher and his dealings with Cambridge University Press are also detailed.
"Art, Aura, and Admiration in the Age of Digital Reproduction."
Art History & Criticism / Meno istorija ir kritika
17, no. n.a. (November 2021): 5-16.
Walter Benjamin famously argued that the mass public of the twentieth century would necessarily correlate with a newly politicized art. But the world has changed considerably since Benjamin’s article was written, as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer already were assessing less than a decade later. It is the purpose of this article to examine how the aesthetics of the Frankfurt school, though frequently still invoked, have lost some of their immediate relevance. The anti-establishment phase of the 60s, compounded by a pronounced taste for irony, rendered aura and exhibition outmoded values, while on the other hand, more recently, price escalation in the art market and digitization have made certain of the Frankfurt school arguments more pertinent than ever. Taking as examples Goldsworthy and Kentridge, this essay argues that a deliberate loosening of the artist’s control over both medium and reception displaces the warmed-over religious responses endorsed by Benjamin, positing instead increased intellectual agency on the part of viewers, whose identity as a mass public has become newly complicated.
"The Political Economy of AfriCOBRA."
Archives of American Art
60, no. 2 (October 2021): 26-45.
Formed in Chicago in 1968, AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) dedicated itself to producing art for Black people independent of white-controlled museums and markets. Examining business records from the Archives of American Art’s Jeff Donaldson Papers, this essay contributes to recent conversations about Black collectivity by exploring how AfriCOBRA navigated capitalism to sustain its revolutionary art practice. In doing so, I argue for the significance of AfriCOBRA as a political economy: a system for producing and distributing Black culture.
Sarah Kirk Hanley.
"Helen Frankenthaler: Woodcut Wonders."
In View Magazine
(September 2021): 21-25.
Published to coincide with "Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty," Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (15 Sept 2021 - 18 Apr 2022) which celebrates Helen Frankenthaler’s woodcut works. Sarah Kirk Hanley looks at how the artist’s technical innovations changed the world of printmaking and reassesses her masterful contribution to woodcut. There was an associated online talk with Phil Sanders for his "Prints and Their Makers" Book Club on September 16, 2021. We discuss the recent criticism that places Frankenthaler more centrally in the canon of late 20th Century art on a par with her male peers. We also discuss what makes an artist great, and how the contributions of women should generally be reconsidered in this regard.