The Fragmented Body and the Artwork of Berlinde De Bruyckere

Granziol-fornera, M. 2017. The Fragmented Body and the Artwork of Berlinde De Bruyckere. PhD thesis University of Westminster Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media

TitleThe Fragmented Body and the Artwork of Berlinde De Bruyckere
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsGranziol-fornera, M.

This thesis examines, from an affective and art historical perspective, the sculptural practice of Berlinde De Bruyckere, positioning her fragmented figures in the context of contemporary art debates and exploring the role of the artist in changing the visual representation of the body fragment.

De Bruyckere’s fragmented figures, often inspired by actual events and problems, reflect on art, as well as on what transcends it, in order to highlight deeper issues within humanity. Therefore, I argue that through the capacity of the body fragment, as a way of magnifying and drawing attention to the edge of the human condition, Berlinde De Bruyckere’s sculptures convey both the fluidity between the psychological inner life and the physical exteriority, as well as other existential concerns.

By looking closely at De Bruyckere’s artwork from 2004-2013, this research shows how the viewers’ reception of the body fragments presented in De Bruyckere’s sculptures, is particularly related to an embodied form of perception, evoking a multitude of physical and emotional reactions. De Bruyckere’s representations of the body as vulnerable and fragmented, engage the spectator through abjection as well as through compassionate empathy, which in turn heightens intra-subjective awareness through affective knowledge. The investigation highlights the profound influence that feminist scholars and artists had in opening up the opportunities available to artists today. I will particularly focus upon feminism’s impact in shaping the representation and perception of the body, as well as the important, yet often forgotten, contribution of female artists in shaping contemporary art discourses through materiality.


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