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"291" and cultural criticism : to see through closed eyes Daniels, Marilyn Christine Johanne


Alfred Stieglitz and the members of '291' are most often remembered in the art historical literature for introducing modernism into America through the work of European artists and through the integration of current European formal experiments into the work of American artists. While some authors have referred to the fact that this modernism, as presented by 291, was intended to critique society, any analysis of that critique is conspicuously missing. Also absent is an analysis of what one contemporary critic referred to as the "queer symbolism lurking at the Post-Impressionist hypothesis." In this thesis the following questions are asked: what was 291's critique and why did they insist upon the expression of the 'irrational' states of the psyche — passion, intuition and imagination, in their art. By situating 291 within its particular set of contexts I attempt to explain what their position represented — to the members themselves and to their rivals.

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