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Blake Stimson

Blake Stimson is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of The Pivot of the World: Photography and Its Nation (2004), and coeditor (with Alexander Alberro) of Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (2000), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Photography and Its Nation

The old dream of social belonging and political sovereignty—the dream of nation—was fraught with anxiety and contradiction for many artists and intellectuals in the 1950s. On the one hand, memories of the Second World War remained vivid and the chauvinism that had enabled it threatened to return with the growing tensions of the Cold War. On the other hand, the need to bind together into a new global identity—into a world nation or "family of man"—seemed ever more pressing as a bulwark against the rapidly expanding threat of a nuclear World War III.

The Pivot of the World looks at an exceptional effort to work out that geopolitical tension by cultural means as developed in three hugely ambitious photographic projects: The Family of Man exhibition that opened in 1955 and traveled the world for the next decade; Robert Frank's influential book The Americans, photographed in 1955-1956 and first published in 1958; and Bernd and Hilla Becher's typological record of industrial architecture, begun in 1957 and continuing today. Each of these projects worked to release the dream of nation—of belonging and sovereignty—from its old civic trappings through the medium of photography's serial form, in the experience of one photograph followed by another and another and another, so that all seem at once intimately connected and at the same time autonomous and distinct. Innovations in the serial composition of photographic form could open new possibilities for social form while the modern desire for political belonging could be made cosmopolitan, could be globalized—but in the most human of ways. This epic sense of purpose lasted only for a moment—it had already passed by the beginning of the 1960s—but it bears particular interest for any historical understanding of the contest over globalization that continues to hold such great consequence for us now.

Titles by This Editor

An Anthology of Artists' Writings

"Institutional critique" is an artistic practice that reflects critically on its own place within galleries and museums and on the concept and social function of art itself. Such concerns have always been a part of modern art but took on new urgency at the end of the 1960s, when--driven by the social upheaval of the time and enabled by the tools and techniques of conceptual art--institutional critique emerged as a genre. This anthology traces the development of institutional critique as an artistic concern from the 1960s to the present, gathering writings and representative art projects of artists who developed and extended the genre. The artists come from across Europe and throughout the Americas; the texts and artworks included are notable for the range of perspectives and positions they reflect, and for their influence in pushing the boundaries of what is meant by institutional critique.

A Critical Anthology

Compared to other avant-garde movements that emerged in the 1960s, conceptual art has received relatively little serious attention by art historians and critics of the past twenty-five years--in part because of the difficult, intellectual nature of the art. This lack of attention is particularly striking given the tremendous influence of conceptual art on the art of the last fifteen years, on critical discussion surrounding postmodernism, and on the use of theory by artists, curators, critics, and historians.This landmark anthology collects for the first time the key historical documents that helped give definition and purpose to the movement. It also contains more recent memoirs by participants, as well as critical histories of the period by some of today's leading artists and art historians. Many of the essays and artists' statements have been translated into English specifically for this volume. A good portion of the exchange between artists, critics, and theorists took place in difficult-to-find limited-edition catalogs, small journals, and private correspondence. These influential documents are gathered here for the first time, along with a number of previously unpublished essays and interviews. Contributors: Alexander Alberro, Art & Language, Terry Atkinson, Michael Baldwin, Robert Barry, Gregory Battcock, Mel Bochner, Sigmund Bode, Georges Boudaille, Marcel Broodthaers, Benjamin Buchloh, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Ian Burn, Jack Burnham, Luis Camnitzer, John Chandler, Sarah Charlesworth, Michel Claura, Jean Clay, Michael Corris, Eduardo Costa, Thomas Crow, Hanne Darboven, Ra?ol Escari, Piero Gilardi, Dan Graham, Maria Teresa Gramuglio, Hans Haacke, Charles Harrison, Roberto Jacoby, Mary Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Max Kozloff, Christine Kozlov, Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Lee Lozano, Kynaston McShine, Cildo Meireles, Catherine Millet, Olivier Mosset, John Murphy, H??lio Oiticica, Michel Parmentier, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rainer, Mari Carmen Ramirez, Nicolas Rosa, Harold Rosenberg, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, Jeanne Siegel, Seth Siegelaub, Terry Smith, Robert Smithson, Athena Tacha Spear, Blake Stimson, Niele Toroni, Mierle Ukeles, Jeff Wall, Rolf Wedewer, Ian Wilson.