Isabel Bishop: the endless search

Ellett, Mary Sweeney, McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia
Docherty, Linda, McIntire Departmnet of Art, University of Virginia

This dissertation is a study of the American painter Isabel Bishop. Her art is considered in terms of her life experience, her significance in relationship to the Fourteenth Street School, the development of her oeuvre over five decades, critical reception to her work, and the artist's own intentions and goals as she has related them.

The dissertation begins with an introductory statement on the historiography of Bishop's work. The following chapter traces the artist's biography from her birth to the present time. The next chapter, on the Fourteenth Street School, compares Bishop's work with that of Kenneth Hayes Miller, Reginald Marsh, and Raphael Soyer. Similarities and differences are discussed, as well as critical response to the work of these artists.

Subsequent chapters, highlighting the 1920s and 1930s, the 1940s and 1950s, and the 1960s and 1970s, discuss consistencies and changes in Bishop's art and critical comment over these periods. Throughout her artistic career, Bishop's preferred subject matter--the people of Union Square, New York City--indicates her lifelong interest in human concerns. Changes are shown in her later works, however, in her greater emphasis on technical processes and her increased concentration on the factor of mobility. In her late work Bishop addresses aspects of the human condition in a broader, more abstract manner.

Sources for information in this dissertation include writings by the artist as well as those by Karl Lunde, Sheldon Reich, Ellen Ekedal, and others. Friends of the artist were generous in contributing valuable insights. The most valuable source, however, was Isabel Bishop herself. Over the past two years she has discussed with the author her life, her oeuvre as a whole, and specific works.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Bishop, Isabel -- 1902-1988, Painters -- United States -- Biography
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