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Title: Figure as Cultural Form: The Art and "Archaeology" of Asger Jorn, 1947–1973
Authors: Henriksen, Niels
Advisors: Foster, Hal
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Archaeology
Artists books
Asger Jorn
Modern painting
Theory of practice
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Beginning in 1947 and continuing throughout his career, the Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914–1973) created a dozen illustrated books in which he traced the evolution of figures and motifs that he associated with Scandinavian art from the prehistoric period to the present time. Only six of these books were published during Jorn’s lifetime. However, through his work on the books, Jorn developed procedures that he used for the creation and alteration of figural forms in his paintings, drawings, prints, collages, and over-paintings as well. “Figure as Cultural Form: The Art and ‘Archaeology’ of Asger Jorn, 1947–1973” follows the migration of specific forms of layering, tracing, folding, fragmenting, and combining across Jorn’s practice. Some of these procedures Jorn borrowed from archaeology; yet the point of comparing their uses in different areas of Jorn’s practice is not to reduce the meaning of his art to a theory of cultural development. By approaching the procedures that Jorn associated with magic, cult, vandalism, and the “Gothic”—the key terms of his examination of prehistoric and medieval art at various moments in his career—as operations that were formal, technical, conceptual, and analytical, I show how Jorn used his illustrated books as practical and theoretical laboratories. Thus, I argue, Jorn’s self-described “archaeology” must be understood—in the context of the theories that shaped his thinking—as a theory of practice as well as a theory in practice. Combining extensive archival and bibliographic research with detailed analyses of book layouts, photographs, drawings, paintings, prints, and collages, my dissertation presents the first in-depth study of Jorn’s illustrated books as they relate to his art theory and practice while also bringing to light important dimensions of the historiographical and philosophical context in which he created his paintings.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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