Theses Doctoral

Exploring the Emergence and Development of Cutting Practices in Contemporary Art

Lan, Catherine

This qualitative cross-case study explores the intricate practice of cutting within contemporary art, examining the works of six artists to unravel cutting’s diverse expressions. This research identifies cutting as a dynamic form of drawing that has evolved from ancient utilitarian uses and pre-modern crafts to a contemporary art form bridging various disciplines.

The study meticulously charts the transformation of cutting from its historical roots in crafts like collages, quilts, writing, and pottery decoration to its present status as a ubiquitous tool in artistic creation.Through semi-structured interviews, visual analysis, and a comprehensive review of both digital and physical portfolios, the study explores how artists harness cutting to achieve a range of formal, conceptual, and metaphorical outcomes. The research, grounded in a constructivist worldview, contextualizes these practices within the broader contemporary art scene, drawing insights from theorists such as Thierry du Duve, David Joselit, Robert Storr, and Hito Steyerl.

This research categorizes cutting techniques into literal, physical, and non-literal, encompassing digital and metaphorical approaches, highlighting the practice’s capacity for innovation and transformation. This study reveals a unifying theme across the artists’ works: the use of cutting as an extension of drawing, facilitating endless possibilities for transformation and expression.

This dissertation posits that cutting extends beyond the confines of traditional art forms, acting as a versatile tool that empowers a spectrum of artistic expressions. By examining the historical development and diverse applications of cutting practices, the research enriches our comprehension of contemporary art. It reveals the profound and transformative potential inherent within this fundamental artistic act.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 10, 2024