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Anthony Blunt and Nicolas Poussin: A Queer Approach

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Anthony Blunt and Nicolas Poussin: A Queer Approach

Nicholson, Luke (2011) Anthony Blunt and Nicolas Poussin: A Queer Approach. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The art historian Anthony Blunt (1907-1983), a homosexual and famously a Soviet spy, was a leading authority on the French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). In recent years, several scholars have noticed strange affinities between these two figures, affinities that relate to their ideas, to a common interest in secrecy and in covert knowledge, as well as to less definite attitudes that these scholars have had difficulty pinning down. This thesis proposes that these strange affinities may be explained by means of Queer Theory, which has afforded art historical scholarship a language and sets of concepts that allow the more difficult aspects of Blunt’s relationship to Poussin to be carefully anatomized. I argue that Blunt may have found in Poussin’s complex and ambiguous pictorial worlds both an inspiration for and a reflection of his multiple, contradictory identities and commitments. Meanwhile, I investigate what properties in Poussin’s art make possible this relationship, exploring how a kernel of homoerotic sensibility, entering Poussin’s oeuvre from the Arcadian pastoral tradition grows and diversifies to depict what I call queer bodies and to construct what I call queer spaces. Blunt’s art historical account of Poussin, the most influential account of the painter in the twentieth century, turns out to be but one facet of a deep and mutually-constitutive encounter between artist and art historian.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Nicholson, Luke
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:15 August 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Johanne
ID Code:7811
Deposited By:LUKE DAVID NICHOLSON
Deposited On:21 Nov 2011 15:24
Last Modified:21 Nov 2011 15:24
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