In this first book-length study of Robert Ryman, Suzanne Hudson traces the artist's production from his first paintings in the early 1950s, many of which have never been exhibited or reproduced, to his more recent gallery shows. Ryman's largely white-on-white paintings represent his careful working over of painting's conventions at their most radically reduced. Through close readings of the work, Hudson casts Ryman as a painter for whom painting was conducted as a continuous personal investigation.
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. This way of looking at the subject allows him to gather together a range of artists and art movements—from socialist realism to its "dangerous supplement," sots art, and from alternative photography to feminism—as if they were tenants in a large Moscow apartment.
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.
As we spend more and more of our time staring at the screens of movies, televisions, computers, and handheld devices—"windows" full of moving images, texts, and icons—how the world is framed has become as important as what is in the frame. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg examines the window as metaphor, as architectural component, and as an opening to the dematerialized reality we see on the screen.
Twentieth-century art history is not just a history of individuals, but of collectives, groups. Universities and colleges have had much to do with this through their support of artistic communities and creative interactions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bauhaus was known for this. In the 1940s, Black Mountain College became a leader in community-based visual art practice and education. And in the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo was the place to be.
The art of Louise Bourgeois stages a dynamic encounter between modern art and psychoanalysis, argues Mignon Nixon in the first full-scale critical study of the artist's work. A pivotal figure in twentieth-century art, Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, France) emigrated to New York in 1938 and is still actively working and exhibiting today.
In her dance and performances of the 1960s, Yvonne Rainer famously transformed the performing body—stripped it of special techniques and star status, traded its costumes and leotards for T-shirts and sneakers, and asked it to haul mattresses or recite texts rather than leap or spin. Without discounting these innovations, Carrie Lambert-Beatty argues in Being Watched that the crucial site of Rainer's interventions in the 1960s was less the body of the performer than the eye of the viewer—or rather, the body as offered to the eye.
In 1971 Alighiero e Boetti commissioned Afghan embroiderers to create a map of the world, with each country bearing the colours and pattern of its flag. The commission grew into a beautifully crafted, large-scale series of maps produced over a period of twenty years in Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan. Each map tracked geopolitical changes throughout the world: the break-up of the Soviet Union, the unification of Germany, disputes over territories in the Middle East and regime changes in the Eurasian peninsula.
Whether it is scooped up off the palette, deployed as propaganda, or opens the doors of perception, color is central to art not only as an element but as an idea. This unique anthology reflects on the aesthetic, cultural, and philosophical meaning of color through the writings of artists and critics, placed within the broader context of anthropology, film, philosophy, literature, and science. Those who loathe color have had as much to say as those who love it.