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`The Face-Off Between Will and Fate': Artistic Identity and Neurological Style in de Kooning's Late Works

Fraser, Mariam. 1998. `The Face-Off Between Will and Fate': Artistic Identity and Neurological Style in de Kooning's Late Works. Body & Society, 4(4), pp. 1-22. ISSN 1357-034X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article explores representations of the artist Willem de Kooning who, during the last few years of his creative life, produced a large number of paintings at the same time as he was thought to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease. My focus is on the way that these representations mobilize themes which Jane Goodall identifies as belonging to a discourse of anxiety. In a bid to suggest that the artist is uniquely positioned to adapt to the progression of the disease, commentators betray a particular concern with the relation between will and intuition. This relation is negotiated, first, by privileging the hand of the artist as a body part possessed of a brain and a will of its own and, second, by drawing on neurological explanations of the nervous system which have the effect of removing `will' from the sphere of voluntarism. Although these representations go some way to refigure conventional notions of artistic identity and creative processes, the reliance on neurology supports an elitism which justifies the exclusion of certain figures (the insane, the naive, the computer) not just from the subject-position `artist', but also from the category `human'.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X98004004001

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Dates:

DateEvent
1998Published

Item ID:

3256

Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2010 11:16

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/3256

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