Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Fine Arts - Painting

First Advisor

Hilary Wilder


For the written component of my thesis, I am attempting to make sense of a current strain in contemporary painting which, generally speaking, tends towards reduction, humble materiality, lack of overt, didactic critique, and a scholarly interest in outmoded or overlooked art historical movements and figures. These are tendencies with which, as a painter, I feel both affinities and differences. Rather than rigidly define a “movement,” I will identify prevalent modes but also highlight individual strategies. I will begin by outlining some of the basic, underlying problems in painting today. I will then examine, as case studies, three young painters—Josephine Halvorson, Richard Aldrich, and Joe Bradley—who I feel exemplify and yet in some ways transcend this trend. I will speak about the work of each in terms of the context in which it is made. However, part of the point of this thesis is to see how individual works by these artists might be talked about apart from their “scene.” I will therefore examine a specific work by each artist in terms of the visual information it is supplies. I will go on to examine two critical reactions (and in one case a critical-fictional reaction) to this kind of work—that of Raphael Rubenstein’s “Provisional Painting” and Christopher K. Ho’s “Hirsch E.P. Rothko’s Hirsch E.P. Rothko”—in an attempt to assess how this type of work is being interpreted by the critical community. Lastly, I will provide my own explanations for why this work is being produced now, why (or if) it is relevant, and what problems it proposes for painters in the future. Although this is not a thesis that addresses my own work directly, it is my intention to use the art-critical process as a means to clarify my own concerns.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011

Included in

Fine Arts Commons