Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art History

First Advisor

Eric Garberson


This dissertation examines the video-installations created by American artist Dan Graham in the 1970s. It investigates the artist's relationship to Minimalism by analyzing themes Graham highlights in his own writings and in interviews. In particular, I explore how the artist's understanding of Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, and R.D. Laing informed his post-Minimalist work and how concepts gleaned from these sources are manifest in his video-installations. Also undertaken are discussions of the artist's interest in aestheticized play, the just-past present, the debate between Behaviourism and phenomenology, surveillance, and Modern architecture. In addition, I investigate Graham's position in Conceptual art, use of site-specificity, and the practice of institutional critique. At the outset, I provide an in-depth analysis of two of Graham's magazine pieces, Schema (March 1966) and Homes For America, that ties together the artist's reading of Marcuse and his rejection of Minimalist phenomenology. Next, I give an account of the artist's connection to early video art and his use of time-delay in works such as Present Continuous Past(s) and Two Viewing Rooms as a means to highlight the just-past present. Finally, I examine Graham's architectural video-installations Yesterday/Today, Video Piece for Showcase Windows in a Shopping Arcade, and Video Piece for Two Glass Office Buildings as instances of site-specific art and as part of the artist's practice of institutional critique. I also explore his references to the notions of art-as-window and art-as-mirror as an expansion of his engagement with Minimalism. Throughout, my discussion includes comparisons between Graham's work and that of other artists like Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, and Hans Haacke. In sum, this study offers an expanded understanding of how Graham employed video and installation in his art as a means to move beyond Minimalism and to interrogate contemporary American society.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2010