Following Marcel Duchamp's death in 1968, the Philadelphia Museum of Art stunned the art world by unveiling a project on which he had been working secretly for twenty years, long after he had supposedly given up art for chess.
Language has been a primary element in visual art since the 1960s—whether in the form of printed texts, painted signs, words on the wall, or recorded speech. In Words to Be Looked At, Liz Kotz traces this practice to its beginnings, examining works of visual art, poetry, and experimental music created in and around New York City from 1958 to 1968. In many of these works, language has been reduced to an object nearly emptied of meaning.
Still little-known in the United States, Richard Hamilton is a key figure in twentieth-century art. An original member of the legendary Independent Group in London in the 1950s, Hamilton organized or participated in groundbreaking exhibitions associated with the group—in particular This Is Tomorrow (1956), for which his celebrated collage Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?, crystallizing the postwar world of consumer capitalism, was made.
Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma, but he belongs to Los Angeles in a way few other artists do. Since the 1960s, Ruscha's iconic images of the cityscape and culture of L.A.—freeway gas stations, parking lots, palm trees, motels, swimming pools, and billboards—have both reflected and shaped popular perceptions of Hollywood and the city that surrounds it. In Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles, Alexandra Schwartz views Ruscha's groundbreaking early work as a window onto the radically shifting cultural and political landscape in which it was produced.
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.
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.
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.