Corita Kent and the Language of Pop

Edited by Susan Dackerman; With essays by Susan Dackerman, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Richard Meyer, and Jennifer L. Roberts

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A definitive exploration of Corita Kent’s art, looking beyond her identity as a radical nun to establish her place amid the vibrant pop art movement of the 1960s

Known widely as a Catholic nun with an avant-garde flair, Corita Kent (1918–1986) has a personal legacy that has tended to overshadow her extensive career as an artist. This handsomely illustrated catalogue places Kent in her rightful position among the foremost figures of pop art, such as Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Roy Lichtenstein. Although Kent has been largely excluded from the academic and critical discourses surrounding 1960s American art, this publication reevaluates her importance and highlights how her work questioned and expanded the boundaries of the pop art movement.
Four essays and nearly 90 catalogue entries pull together a variety of topics—art history, religion, politics, linguistics, race, gender, mass media, and advertising—that influenced Kent’s life and work during the 1960s. Eminent pop scholars delve into the relationship between her art and that of her contemporaries, and explore how her art both responded to and advanced the changes in modern-day Catholicism stemming from Vatican II. More than 200 vibrant images showcase Kent’s ingenious screenprints, which often combine handwritten text and commercial imagery. Offering an unparalleled, rigorous study of an artist who has been largely overlooked, this book is an important contribution to scholarship as well as a fascinating presentation of Kent and her work to a wider audience.

Susan Dackerman is consultative curator of prints at the Harvard Art Museums. Julia Bryan-Wilson is associate professor of art history at the University of California, Berkeley. Richard Meyer is the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor of Art History at Stanford University. Jennifer L. Roberts is the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University.


Harvard Art Museums

San Antonio Museum of Art

“Kent’s originality and art-historical significance are underlined . . . The power of Kent’s work derives from not just a sense of notionally passive acceptance à la Warhol, but also an active engagement . . . upending meanings to serve decidedly warm spiritual ends.”—Christopher Lyon, Bookforum

“Superb new essays by distinguished art historians . . . persuasive and provocative.”—Molly Warnock, Critical Inquiry
ISBN: 9780300214710
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Harvard Art Museums
338 pages, 9 1/2 x 12
270 color + 15 b/w illus.

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