Imagining Whiteness in Art

Master's Thesis


The inability to distinguish between skin color and culture, nationality and race, and the personal and the political, often makes finding whiteness in art difficult and furthers society’s inability to examine whiteness. Many non-white artists who examine whiteness through art are marginalized. However, many white artists also confront the issues of race, and their work is often not analyzed in a racial context. This allows whiteness to remain invisible. By examining Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 3, Sally Mann’s Deep South, and Paul McCarthy’s Class Fool, in terms of the artists’ white identity, one is able to see how these artists’ cultural representations align with society’s definitions of whiteness. In this essay, the purpose of identifying whiteness in art is not to determine “correct” meanings but instead to determine what meanings can be legitimately read in three artists’ work.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04142011-130553

Author Joseph Small
Advisor Martina Lopez
Contributor Gabrielle Gopinath, Committee Member
Contributor Maria Tomasula, Committee Member
Contributor Martina Lopez, Committee Chair
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Art, Art History, and Design
Degree Name MFA
Defense Date
  • 2011-04-15

Submission Date 2011-04-14
  • United States of America

  • photography

  • art history

  • Paul McCarthy

  • Matthew Barney

  • video

  • white people

  • Sally Mann

  • performance

  • Art

  • Fine Art

  • Whiteness

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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