An examination of Barnett Newman and Isamu Noguchi's artistic works in relation to World War II photojournalism in the New York Times, Life, and Time

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University of Alabama Libraries

The events of World War II fundamentally changed Barnett Newman and Isamu Noguchi, both Abstract Expressionist artists. Although neither artist served in the military, their distinctive heritages influenced how they reacted to three major occurrences during the War: the Holocaust, the Japanese internment, and the detonation of the atomic bombs. Upon seeing the images of liberated concentration camps publicized in popular media, Newman, a Polish-Jew, actually destroyed most of his pre-War art, arguing that after such violations of human rights, what subject was worthy of painting? Noguchi, a Japanese-American, spent much of his childhood on the West Coast, and was interred in a Japanese camp following Pearl Harbor, an experience that forever altered the rationale behind his sculpture. Lastly, the image of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki transformed the entire post-War generation, not just Newman and Noguchi. Using the images promulgated in three popular publications--the New York Times, Life magazine, and Time magazine--this study seeks to examine the stories and the photojournalism that had a direct influence on the two artists' War and post-War works. Additionally, artist statements accompanying the selected pieces will further illustrate just how influential these popular media outlets were to their subsequent creations throughout the next decades.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Journalism, Art history