Postgraduate Dissertation Prize Winner

Winner of the Association for Art History’s Dissertation Prize 2017

We are delighted to announce that Katrina Harple (University College London) is the winner of the 2017 postgraduate Dissertation Prize for her essay, ‘What do I get out of it?’ Reprographic Resistance and Consumer Critique in David Salle’s Early Paintings (1980-90)‘.

The prize will be awarded to Katrina at the 2018 Annual Conference in London. You can read an abstract of her dissertation below.

Shortlisted runners up

We also shortlisted three runners up. These were:

How did Ugolino di Nerio’s Santa Croce Polyptych challenge and change the art historical canon between 1780 and 1887?‘, by Katharine Ault (The Open University)

The Dress of the Bodhisattva in the Art of Gandhara: Influences, Connections, Materials, and Techniques 25‘, by Mandira Chhabra (University of London)

Winner’s Abstract

‘What do I get out of it?’ Reprographic Resistance and Consumer Critique in David Salle’s Early Paintings (1980-90)’, by Katrina Harple

This dissertation aims to untangle the influence and interrelation of capitalist commodity culture and aesthetic production in the context of the United States in the 1980s. To do so, David Salle’s painting practice from 1980-90 will be analyzed. Salle’s work has incited debate surrounding the function of painting as an aesthetic practice, versus painting as a commodified product. His work has achieved great commercial success, yet conversely, it has been almost entirely neglected by critical scholarship. Salle’s contentious practice will be thought of in relation to a Marxist model of cultural critique. I will consider the ways in which Salle’s canvases criticize and resist dominant culture and ideology through their formal structure by isolating three kinds of material disruption – the use of a multi-canvas format, the objectified presence of the female body, and the superimposition and transparency of images.

Salle’s paintings will be conceived of as a locus of social content, a locale from which to work through issues in postmodern cultural critique such as the merging of high and low, of aesthetic and commodity, of integration and isolation. Recent scholarship on the agency of painting in a post-medium condition will help to contextualize the revitalization of figurative painting practice, and ontologically shift the space of the canvas from a passive to an active state. Adorno’s negative dialectical schema will provide the lexicon from which to assess Salle’s practice. His paintings will be brought into productive union with Adorno’s criterion for a negating, resistant aesthetic praxis. Salle’s work will be seen as a visual manifestation of a new form of deconstructive cultural critique.

Many thanks to the members of the student committee for assessing this year’s Dissertation Prize; Sara Tarter, Marie Hawkins, Alicia Hughes, Karolina Koczynska, Isobel MacDonald, Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, Clare Nadal, Naomi Stewart, and thanks to Trustees Tilo Reifenstein and Carol Richardson for making the final decision. We received an exceptionally high standard of submissions for this year’s prize which made the assessment process even harder than usual.