Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Visual Arts


Dr. Cody Barteet

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Christine Sprengler

Joint Supervisor


This thesis examines the work of Canadian artists John Boyle and Diana Thorneycroft. It analyzes their imagery in aesthetic, political, and strictly materialist terms using the theoretical work of Wilhelm Worringer, Wyndham Lewis and Gilles Deleuze. Both artists have appropriated elements of Canadian history (historical figures, cultural archetypes and aspects of material culture) to create art works that are alienating and abstract. With Boyle, this has involved constructing a wall of noise to operate as a territorial marker, one that both parodies and reinforces the traditions of the nation. His art has been one devoted to nonsense, nihilism and a deliberate short-circuiting of communication. This is invested in advocacy for a Canadian nationalism that is both mournful and absurd. For Thorneycroft, it has meant a shift away from the production of absurd tableau dealing with Canadian nationalism, to an attempt to encounter the crimes of the country's history with empathy. However, her formal means have consistently short-circuited her attempt to create a morally therapeutic art.