Thèse soutenue par Christine Dubois
Préparée sous la direction de Éric Michaud
Président du jury : M. Jean-Marc Poinsot, Professeur à l'université Rennes-II
Jury : Mme Johanne Lamoureux, Professeure à l'université de Montréal
Spécialité : Histoire et théorie de l'art
The tradition of landscape into art and its renewal in Abstract Expressionism
This thesis re-evaluates a problem that has been systematically set aside—the link between the 1940s abstract painting of the American Color Fields and nature. This thesis shows that this link tallies with the principle of pictural self-referentiality that grounds such works, and with their goal of reaching the sublime and pure, primitive « truth ».
The basic hypothesis is that these works are structured according to particular principles that turn out to be those of the pictural tradition of the landscape. The first half of this thesis retraces the genealogy, from the Greeks to Cezanne, of the two foundational topoi of the landscape in painting: the earth/heavens contact and the mountain. These constitute an iconic dyad (domestic vs. wild nature) that turns out to be an organizing principle of the image which, already with the Trecento, will transit through the fertile dialectic between mimesis and pigmentary material. This thesis then suggests a link between Cezanne, whose work on landscape brought to light the latter's truth-revealing powers in painting, and the Color Fields which, in their quest for the specificity of painting, intersected with Nature.