"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.
The last explosive change in art education came nearly a century ago, when the German Bauhaus was formed. Today, dramatic changes in the art world—its increasing professionalization, the pervasive power of the art market, and fundamental shifts in art-making itself in our post-Duchampian era—combined with a revolution in information technology, raise fundamental questions about the education of today's artists.
The contemporary painter Gerhard Richter (born in 1932) has been heralded both as modernity's last painter and as painting's modern savior, seen to represent both the end of painting and its resurrection. Richter works in a dizzying variety of styles, from abstraction to a German cool pop that combines painterly technique and appropriation; his work includes photo paintings, large abstract canvases, and stained glass windows.
Gabriel Orozco's work is sometimes considered uncategorizable; but his sculpture, photography, drawing, collage, and installations are unified by their devotion to the antispectacular, to the everyday, and to the explorations of complexities that are not immediately obvious.
Poet and post-punk hero Eileen Myles has always operated in the art, writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Myles travels the city—wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit—seeing it with a poet's eye for detail and with the consciousness that writing about art and culture has always been a social gesture.
In The Museological Unconscious, Victor Tupitsyn views the history of Russian contemporary art through a distinctly Russian lens, a "communal optic" that registers the influence of such characteristically Russian phenomena as communal living, communal perception, and communal speech practices.
Roy Lichtenstein's popular appeal—and his influence on pop culture, seen in everything from greeting cards to sitcoms—at times overshadows his importance to contemporary art. Yet, examined on its own terms, Lichtenstein's comics-inspired, deadpan artwork remains as truly unsettling to art-world orthodoxies today as when it first gained wide attention in the early 1960s. Lichtenstein (1923-1997), a central figure in Pop, consistently savaged the rules of painting—while remaining committed to the most traditional procedures and goals of the medium.
As Hollis Frampton's photographs and celebrated experimental films were testing the boundaries of the camera arts in the 1960s and 1970s, his provocative and highly literate writings were attempting to establish an intellectually resonant form of discourse for these critically underexplored fields. It was a time when artists working in diverse disciplines were beginning to pick up cameras and produce films and videotapes, well before these practices were understood or embraced by institutions of contemporary art.
The typewriter, the card index, and the filing cabinet: these are technologies and modalities of the archive. To the bureaucrat, archives contain little more than garbage, paperwork no longer needed; to the historian, on the other hand, the archive's content stands as a quasi-objective correlative of the "living" past.
Artist Mel Bochner became a writer, he says, almost by accident. In 1965, as a young artist in New York, he was out of a job; Arts Magazine paid him $2.50 for every review he turned in, whether they published it or not; a month of review-writing paid his rent—$28.00 a month. His reviews and articles provoked a range of unexpected reactions. "At that time, artists who wrote were looked at suspiciously, as if writing somehow tainted their visual practice," he writes.