Studio Habits: Francis Bacon, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock and Agnes Martin

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis is about studio habits. Specifically, it considers what happens in practice in the artist's studio and ways in which creative acts have been visualised and disseminated. The chapters of this thesis are organised around views of the studios of four twentieth century painters: Francis Bacon (1908-1994), Lee Krasner (1909-1984), Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) and Agnes Martin (1913-2005). Each of these artists' studio habits has been fundamental to their respective mythologies and the studios they occupied in their lifetimes have inflected discussion of their work. Drawing on critical theories of sexuality, gender and space, this thesis argues that the idea of the artist as a master continues to dominate as an explanation of art-making but that this characterisation is called into question by these four artist's specific practices in the studio. Close readings of the studio habits in these case studies, considered here as a situated negotiation between artist and studio, challenges the idea of mastery that studio-view exhibits and images tend to promote. Notions of mastery are inclined to construct practice as a paradigm between an active artist and passive studio materials and these, in turn, are apt to be read in terms of masculinity and femininity, respectively. Thus, the role of studio artist has tended to privilege a male lead. Therefore, analysing particular performances of masculinity by these artists provides a means to contest reading studio-view images as statements of mastery and the damaging and inequitable connotations this designation implies. Furthermore, this thesis argues that the recent trend to preserve studio material, or to otherwise encompass traces of practice in exhibits, films and photographs, may be correlated with theoretical shifts which took place in latter half of the twentieth century as a response to philosophical losses entailed in the critique of authority and objecthood and the rise of performance and conceptual art practices.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCarol Mavor (Supervisor) & Jacqueline Stacey (Supervisor)


  • sexuality
  • studio
  • practice
  • space

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