Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

This project began in 2006, when Leo Mazow invited me to look at a small collection of paintings, prints, and drawings by Arthur B. Davies at the Palmer Museum of Art. His collegiality was a precious gift to a new faculty member at Penn State. I promised to toss around some exhibition ideas, even though...

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Introduction: Body Cultures, Physiological Aesthetics, and Kin-aesthetic Modernism

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pp. 1-36

The term “living line” came to my attention from an art dealer’s praise of drawings and prints by the American artist Arthur B. Davies, written soon after his death in 1928. In the artist’s work, wrote Frederic Newlin Price, “color harmonies grew through the beautiful drawing of a living line. His work became full...

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1. Poise

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pp. 37-66

In the history of modern art, the United States lags during the early twentieth century, slow to give up the human figure. In fact, the nude is unavoidable in American art of the 1910s and 1920s. It is possible to explain the American attachment to figurative art in terms of classicism, an antimodern impulse to make...

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2. Empathy

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pp. 67-94

The “lift of inhalation” and its conflation of human physicality and visual form answers a question central to early twentieth-century modernism and persistent in scholarly discourse: Can an artist bring the body’s moving lines, organic rhythms, and essential vivacity to a static work of art without representational...

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3. Motive

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pp. 95-122

For Arthur B. Davies, repetition facilitated physiological, economic, and aesthetic efficiency. By using only a few models and repeatedly drawing the same poses and then inserting them as building blocks in other works, he became intimately familiar with their decorative potential and kinesthetically accomplished...

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4. Habit

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pp. 123-158

The “International Exhibition of Modern Art” opened in New York City in February 1913. This was the first extensive exhibition of European and American modern art to be held in the United States. As such, the Armory Show (as it is now known) is considered the turning point in the history of American...

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5. Shock

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pp. 159-184

Audiences at the 1913 Armory Show found the new abstract art shocking. To say so today may seem trite, but for them, this term was not merely hyperbole for excitement and surprise. Originally, it was meant to describe the effect of stimuli on the nervous system. In the mid-1800s, the fields of physics and medicine...

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6. Signature

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pp. 185-208

From 1911 through early 1918, painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) was training for and establishing a career in art education; she planned to teach others how to teach art. In the same period, she began studying Arthur Wesley Dow’s formalist compositional techniques and aesthetic writings by critics Charles...

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7. Caricature

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pp. 209-230

The meticulous quality of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work offers a reminder of the potential for physical discipline and injury that an artist’s habits engender, like those of any manual worker. The art-making postures and gestures that O’Keeffe adopted, and her extensive experiments with materials, were essential...

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8. Rhythm

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pp. 231-260

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, dancer Ted Shawn and artist and art collector Katherine Dreier joined forces to present modern dance and visual art to audiences in the United States. Dreier repeatedly credited abstract art with having “energy” and “vitality” due to “vibrations” and “rhythms,” terms Shawn likewise...

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9. Vibration

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pp. 261-286

Dreier’s Abstract Psychological Portrait of Shawn (fig. 9.1) was one of a series of paintings that were radically abstract for the time and place of their production. Although work that bold had been displayed in New York galleries during the 1910s, in the 1920s few American artists showed the same commitment...

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10. Discomfort

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pp. 287-313

After his first visit to see Albert C. Barnes’s art collection, philosopher John Dewey wrote to the collector, “I want to thank you for the extraordinary experience which you gave me. I have been conscious of living in a medium of color ever since Friday — almost swimming in it. . . . [I]t is a mark of the quality of...

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11. Organization

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pp. 315-324

Contrary to “comfort,” experiencing distortion and dissonance was important in Alexandrian aesthetics, as was the viewer’s active participation instead of automatic passivity. In John Dewey’s 1926 essay for the Barnes Foundation, “Affective Thought in Logic and Painting,” he proposes that art can physiologically...

Notes

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pp. 325-362

Bibliography

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pp. 363-393

Index

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pp. 395-405

Color Illustrations

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