Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Alan Wallach


This dissertation describes domestic painting in Atlanta, Georgia between 1995 and 2004 as a market defined by its intentional connection of the ideologies and spaces of art with those of bourgeois domesticity. The first half of the work seeks to contextualize the market's various objects and texts within public and academic discourses on culture that commonly posit an antithesis between the practices of bourgeois women (especially decoration) and "high" or avant-garde art, as suggested by the sentiment, "GOOD ART WON'T MATCH YOUR SOFA." Thus, Chapter 1 addresses the promises and pitfalls of sociological approaches to understanding art in general, Chapter 2 addresses two recent field studies of local markets as examples of how methodological decisions can mask ideological bias, and Chapter 3 discusses the historical context behind the divorce of art and the home as part of the gendering of aesthetic creativity as a predominantly masculine pursuit, each chapter examining the place of the literature itself in the creation of the categories of art. The second part of the dissertation provides an account of the way paintings produced in the market encode its social and spatial relations as a way of visualizing the private home and its interpersonal contents. In Chapter 4, the author proposes intuitive vision to name distinctive visual habits and bodily practices of bourgeois domesticity in contemporary Atlanta, especially the role of artworks in the phenomenological space of the home. Chapter 5 focuses on integration as domestic painting's central quality and goal: the market's various agents are integrated in a coherent social milieu not restricted to art-related roles, but that is, nevertheless, focused through aesthetic experience of the physical and stylistic features of artworks as they, themselves, are integrated into specific domestic settings. Chapters 6 and 7 chart the concrete terrain of 'home-like' spaces devoted to the production and distribution of paintings in the market, while developing the distinction between phenomenological and sight-based representations of domesticity. Finally, the Conclusion returns to the supposed antithesis between avant-garde aesthetics and the various practices known collectively as decoration as a way to address the question, "What is bourgeois art?"



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