Original and theoretically astute, Abstract Bodies is the first book to apply the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies to the discipline of art history. It recasts debates around abstraction and figuration in 1960s art through a discussion of gender's mutability and multiplicity. In that decade, sculpture purged representation and figuration but continued to explore the human as an implicit reference. Even as the statue and the figure were left behind, artists and critics asked how the human, and particularly gender and sexuality, related to abstract sculptural objects that refused the human form.
This book examines abstract sculpture in the 1960s that came to propose unconventional and open accounts of bodies, persons, and genders. Drawing on transgender and queer theory, David J. Getsy offers innovative and archivally rich new interpretations of artworks by and critical writing about four major artists-Dan Flavin (1933-1996), Nancy Grossman (b. 1940), John Chamberlain (1927-2011), and David Smith (1906-1965). Abstract Bodies makes a case for abstraction as a resource in reconsidering gender's multiple capacities and offers an ambitious contribution to this burgeoning interdisciplinary field.