Transcending inaccessibility : reassessing the Action Painters in the light of rhetorical theory

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Holaday, Troy A.
Hanson, Linda K.
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Thesis (Ph.D.)
Department of English
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This interdisciplinary thesis investigates the Action Painting movement using rhetorical theories and models with the intent of producing a higher level of understanding of the paintings and increasing their approachability. A brief history of nonobjective painting, the technique of automatism, and the Action Painting movement is given. Following this, the semiotic character of the visual elements within Action Paintings is discussed and their behavior catalogued through descriptive analysis, using Kenneth Pike's theory of tagmemics. The work culminates in a comparison of painted gestures to conversational implicatures and guidelines are given for establishing meaningful and relevant dialogues with the paintings, presupposing the importance of an intangible context as defined by the reconstruction of authorial intent and anticipated readership.