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Painter’s Word

Thomas Hart Benton, Marsden Hartley and Ad Reinhardt as Writers


Edyta Frelik

This book adds a new perspective to the study of American art by reclaiming underrated writings of three 20 th -century masters, Thomas Hart Benton, Marsden Hartley and Ad Reinhardt. Their rich and diverse literary output was never before studied methodically in and beyond the context of their painting. The book’s first part sets the necessary framework for discussing their texts by outlining the long history of debates about inter-art analogies and rivalries. Through systematic close reading of Benton’s, Hartley’s and Reinhardt’s writings the study reveals novel and unique juxtapositions of visual and verbal elements at work which are present in both their paintings and writings and confirms the existence of a strong link between their painterly and writerly dispositions.
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A shorter version of the chapter on Ad Reinhardt was published as “Ad Reinhardt: Painter-as-Writer” in American Art 28, No. 3 (Fall 2014): 104–125.

A much shorter version of the conclusion was published as “Brushed off Words: On Artists’ Writings” in Visions and Revisions: Studies in Literature and Culture, ed. Grzegorz Czemiel, Justyna Galant, Anna Kędra-Kardela, Aleksandra Kędzierska, Marta Komsta. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015, 241–48. 

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