If you're interested in Plato, you're reading the wrong book. If you're interested in difficult childhoods, sexual misadventures, aesthetics, cultural history, and the reasons that a club sandwich and other meals—including breakfast—have remained in the memory of the present writer, keep reading.
—from Feelings Are Facts
Pioneering conceptual artist Vito Acconci began his career as a poet. In the 1960s, before beginning his work in performance and video art, Acconci studied at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published poems in journals and chapbooks. Almost all of this work remains unknown; much of it appeared in the self-produced magazines of the Lower East Side's mimeo revolution, and many other pieces were never published.
The body as an object of critical study dominates disciplines across the humanities to such an extent that a new discipline has emerged: body criticism. In Getting Under the Skin, Bernadette Wegenstein traces contemporary body discourse in philosophy and cultural studies to its roots in twentieth-century thought—showing how psychoanalysis, phenomenology, cognitive science, and feminist theory contributed to a new body concept—and studies the millennial body in performance art, popular culture, new media arts, and architecture.
In an age when scientists say they can no longer specify the exact difference between human and animal, living and dead, many contemporary artists have chosen to use animals in their work—as the ultimate "other," as metaphor, as reflection. The attempt to discover what is animal, not surprisingly, leads to a greater understanding of what it means to be human. In Becoming Animal, 12 internationally known artists investigate the shifting boundaries between animal and human. Their explorations may be a barometer of things to come.
Art made to attach to buildings or to be given away? Wearable art for street demonstrations or art that sets up a booth at a trade show? This is the art of the interventionists, who trespass into the everyday world to raise our awareness of injustice and other social problems. These artists don't preach or proselytize; they give us the tools to form our own opinions and create our own political actions. The Interventionists, which accompanies an exhibit at MASS MoCA, serves as a handbook to this new and varied work.
Aby Warburg (1866-1929) is best known as the originator of the discipline of iconology and as the founder of the institute that bears his name. His followers included such celebrated art historians of the twentieth century as Erwin Panofsky, Edgar Wind, and Fritz Saxl. But his heirs developed, for the most part, a domesticated iconology based on the interpretation of symbolic material. As Phillippe-Alain Michaud shows in this important book, Warburg's own project was remote from any positivist or neo-Kantian ambitions.
Carolee Schneemann is one of the pioneers of performance, installation, and video art. Although other visual artists, such as Salvador Dali and Yves Klein, had used live self-portraiture and performance as a vehicle for public provocation, Schneemann was among the first to use her body to animate the relationship between the world of lived experience and the imagination, as well as issues of the erotic, the sacred, and the taboo.
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874?1927) is considered by many to be the first American dadaist as well as the mother of dada. An innovator in poetic form and an early creator of junk sculpture, "the Baroness" was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances. Some thought her merely crazed, others thought her a genius.
The work of artist Mike Kelley (b. 1954) embraces performance, installation, drawing, painting, video, and sculpture. Drawing distinctively on high art and vernacular traditions, including historical research, popular culture, and psychology, Kelley came to prominence in the 1980s with a series of sculptures composed of craft materials. His recent work offers dialogues with architecture and with repressed memory syndrome, and a sustained inquiry into his own aesthetic and social history. The subjects on which Kelley has written are as varied as his artistic media.
From the moment art historian Leo Steinberg championed his work in opposition to Clement Greenberg's rigid formalism, Robert Rauschenberg has played a pivotal role in the development and understanding of postmodern art. Challenging nearly all the prevailing assumptions about the visual arts of his time, he pioneered the postwar revival of collage, photography, silkscreen, technology, and performance.