Wols and Smallness

Krcma, Ed (2014) Wols and Smallness. Oxford Art Journal, 37 (3). pp. 245-264. ISSN 1741-7287

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Abstract

This paper examines the work of the German-born artist Wols in relation to questions of scale. It focuses upon the very small, intricate drawings that Wols made in the mid-1940s, but also bears upon his close-up photographs of kitchen detritus from the late 1930s, as well as his poems and aphorisms. Situating Wols within the artistic and intellectual climate of post-war France (and with particular reference to the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and Gaston Bachelard), I explore how the teeming detail of his drawings, by encouraging very close looking into unfamiliar pictorial worlds, induces a sense of proximity and exposure. This, together with Wols’ obsessive, agitated facture, can usefully be analysed in terms of what Eric Santner has called ‘creaturely life’. In this respect, Wols’ work aligns not with the gestural abstraction of the New York School, but rather with, for example, the mescaline drawings of Henri Michaux and the microscripts of Robert Walser. Furthermore, I argue that the dramatization of the human rendered ‘creaturely’ not only has a particular purchase on the conditions of life in France in the 1940s, but also on the fate of the artwork unmoored from the form of life from which it emerged.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: wols,drawing,art informel,robert walser,jean-paul sartre,smallness,art,krcma,bachelard,eric santner,visual arts and performing arts ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1213
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Art History and World Art Studies
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2015 11:52
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2020 00:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/54464
DOI: 10.1093/oxartj/kcu015

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