Daniel Birnbaum

Daniel Birnbaum is a Swedish art critic, theoretician, and curator. He was the director of the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm from 2010 to 2018, and currently directs the VR company, Acute Art.

  • Spacing Philosophy

    Spacing Philosophy

    Lyotard and the Idea of the Exhibition

    Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein

    The significance of Jean-François Lyotard's innovative 1985 exhibition Les Immatériaux and the “curatorial turn” in critical theory.

    In 1985, the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard curated Les Immatériaux at Centre Georges Pompidou. Though widely misunderstood at the time, the exhibition marked a “curatorial turn” in critical theory. Through its experimental layout and hybrid presentation of objects, technologies, and ideas, this pioneering exploration of virtuality reflected on the exhibition as a medium of communication and anticipated a deeper engagement with immersive and digital space in both art and theory. In Spacing Philosophy, Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein analyze the significance and logic of Lyotard's exhibition while contextualizing it in the history of exhibition practices, the philosophical tradition, and Lyotard's own work on aesthetics and phenomenology. Les Immatériaux can thus be seen as a culmination and materialization of a life's work as well as a primer for the many thought-exhibitions produced in the following decades.

    • Paperback $22.00
  • De ou par Marcel Duchamp par Ulf Linde

    De ou par Marcel Duchamp par Ulf Linde

    Jan Åman and Daniel Birnbaum

    In 1961, Ulf Linde produced the first authorized copy of Marcel Duchamp's monumental piece, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (1915–23), and Linde is without doubt one of the world's most important interpreters of Marcel Duchamp's art. For more than half a century, he has pursued intense studies of Duchamp's entire oeuvre and has made perfect replicas of all his major works. Like no one else, he knows the works in minute detail.

    Linde's replicas and his early texts on Duchamp were essential to the international reception of the artist's work and played a key role in such major exhibitions as Walter Hopps's 1963 Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum, and the Centre Pompidou's opening exhibition in 1977. Linde, who is still as active as ever, is the author of numerous books and essays on Duchamp. His as-yet unpublished manuscript scrutinizing the mathematical principles behind Duchamp's art reveals what Linde claims to be the key to Marcel Duchamp's poetic universe.

    Produced by Academie Anartiste as an extension of the eponymous exhibition organized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and Moderna Museet in 2011.

    Contributors Jan Åman, Daniel Birnbaum, Marcel Duchamp, Ulf Linde, Henrik Samuelsson, Susanna Slöör

    • Hardcover $52.00
  • Thinking through Painting

    Thinking through Painting

    Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas

    Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, and Nikolaus Hirsch

    Painting has demonstrated remarkable perseverance in the expanding field of contemporary art and the surrounding ecology of media images. It appears, however, to have dispelled its own once-uncontested material basis: no longer confined to being synonymous with a flat picture plane hung on the wall, today, painting instead tends to emphasize the apparatus of its appearance and the conduits of its circulation. With contributions by Peter Geimer, Isabelle Graw, and André Rottmann, Thinking through Painting investigates painting's traits and reception in cultural and socioeconomic discourse.

    Contributors Peter Geimer, Isabelle Graw, André Rottmann

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $16.00
  • Art and Subjecthood

    Art and Subjecthood

    The Return of the Human Figure in Semiocapitalism

    Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, and Nikolaus Hirsch

    Many contemporary artworks evoke the human figure: consider the omnipresence of the mannequin in current installations of artists like John Miller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Heimo Zobernig, or David Lieske. Or consider the revival of a minimalist vocabulary, which embraces anthropomorphism as in the works of Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison. This book brings together contributions from the eponymous conference, all of which seek to speculate on the reasons as to why, since the turn of the millennium, we have encountered so many artworks that tend to reconcile Minimalism with suggestions of the human figure. It proposes that this new artistic convention becomes rather questionable when discussed in the light of Franco Berardi's theory of semiocapitalism—a power technology that aims squarely at our human resources. The participants of this conference were asked to offer possible explanations for this wide acceptance of anthropomorphism—could it be that this is a manifestation of the increasingly desperate desire for art to have agency?

    Contributors Ina Blom, Oliver Brokel, Caroline Busta, Stefan Deines, Hal Foster, Stefanie Heraeus, Jutta Koether, Magdalena Nieslony, Michael Sanchez

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Chardin Material

    Chardin Material

    Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Daniel Birnbaum, and Isabelle Graw

    Adapted from the lecture she delivered at the Institut für Kunstkritik, Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth's essay explores the dimension of self-reflexivity in the work of eighteenth-century French painter, Jean-Siméon Chardin. Focusing on the material aspects of Chardin's practice, Lajer-Burcharth asks: In what ways were Chardin's painterly procedures “his own,” and what were the implications of his possessive and personalized approach to the process of making? The author delves into these questions by examining a crucial moment in the artist's career, when he, for reasons we can only speculate about, temporarily abandoned his still life practice and turned to painting genre scenes. The essay is joined by responses from Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, followed by the author's replies.

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $16.00
  • Portikus Under Construction, 3-vol. set

    Portikus Under Construction, 3-vol. set

    Helke Bayrle and Daniel Birnbaum

    The Portikus is an exhibitions space that is associated with the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. A production site rather than a traditional gallery, it is an institution willing to redefine its basic parameters with every new project. Since the late 1980s, some 160 exhibitions and innumerable other events have been staged there, and with each project the space has changed. Sometimes it is a factory, sometimes a kitchen or a stage for gatherings and performances. Sometimes it is a classical white museum space, sometimes a cinema, a green house or a swimming pool. How can one portray an institution like this?

    For many years now, Helke Bayrle—a film maker based in Frankfurt am Main—has documented the activities of the Portikus. The result is a unique collection of artist portraits. Portikus Under Construction presents the last decade, edited backstage material that the viewer of the finished exhibitions never sees. Some of the artists really like talking about what they do and about the significance of what they present, others prefer to simply work with the installation team and the curator. Helke Bayrle's unique material is very large and represents an important archive of contemporary exhibition making. These three discs present an edited version of the artist portraits. They give us a glimpse of each artist's work at the Portikus, and at the same time they offer a unique behind the scenes view of the activities at one of Europe's most lively experimental art institutions.

    3 DVDs with booklet: 36 pp., 13 b / w ill.DVD I: 2001–03, 19 videos, 80 minDVD II: 2004–06, 21 videos, 94 minDVD III: 2007–08, 13 videos, 62 minPicture: PAL, 4:3, color

    • DVD-Video $32.00
  • Canvases and Careers Today

    Canvases and Careers Today

    Criticism and Its Markets

    Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw

    Canvases and Careers Today brings together contributions from the eponymous conference organized by the Institut für Kunstkritik, Frankfurt am Main. Its goal is to provide deeper insights and more complexity to current debates on the relationship between criticism, art, and the market.

    “It was especially interesting for us to watch a kind of transatlantic divide happening. While the US-American participants mostly declared criticism as obsolete while hoping for turning its weakness into a strength, most European participants departed from the opposite diagnosis: that criticism has never been as strong as it is today, since it is now part of a knowledge-based economy.”—Isabelle Graw/Daniel Birnbaum

    Contributors George Baker, Johanna Burton, Merlin Carpenter, Melanie Gilligan, Isabelle Graw, Tom Holert, Branden W. Joseph, John Kelsey, André Rottmann, Julia Voss

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Chronology

    Chronology

    Daniel Birnbaum and April Lamm

    “Is it the intentionality described by phenomenology and the ambiguous flesh of the active viewer who enters the work of art and fully explores its most extreme possibilities that determine the limits of possible subjectivation? Or is it the work itself that defines the parameters of new potential forms of subjectivity, perhaps involving modes of awareness that dodge the framework of phenomenology? Such are the questions that constitute the ultimate horizon of this essay.”—Daniel Birnbaum

    A philosophical essay on time, phenomenology and beyond, Daniel Birnbaum's Chronology was presented in frieze as a “compelling and sophisticated take on the common theme of Deleuzian immanence.” Whereas many theoretical books littering the bookshops of art institutions are laudations of excess, Birnbaum's convictions presented in Chronology cut a way through the “caesuras of non-meaning and blankness into the thick web of sense.”

    The works of artists such as Stan Douglas, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Doug Aitken, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Tacita Dean, Darren Almond, Tobias Rehberger, Pierre Huyghe, and Philippe Parreno are scrutinized as so many attempts to capture the very dialectic of time itself. As Brian Dillon writes in frieze, “Birnbaum's notion of an art of unpredictable becoming … has its aporias too. A brief aside apropos Matthew Barney – to the effect that his art is all meaning, all of the time – is quite telling.”

    Daniel Birnbaum is Director of the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and Director of its Portikus gallery. He is also a member of the board of the Institut für Sozialforschung. A contributing editor of Artforum, he is the author of numerous texts on art and philosophy.

    • Paperback $19.95

Contributor

  • Situation

    Situation

    Claire Doherty

    Key texts on the notion of “situation” in art and theory that consider site, place, and context, temporary interventions, remedial actions, place-making, and public space.

    Situation—a unique set of conditions produced in both space and time and ranging across material, social, political, and economic relations—has become a key concept in twenty-first-century art. Rooted in artistic practices of the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of situation has evolved and transcended these in the current context of globalization. This anthology offers key writings on areas of art practice and theory related to situation, including notions of the site specific, the artist as ethnographer or fieldworker, the relation between action and public space, the meaning of place and locality, and the crucial role of the curator in recent situation specific art.

    In North America and Europe, the site-specific is often viewed in terms of resistance to art's commoditization, while elsewhere situation-specific practices have defied institutions of authority. The contributors discuss these recent tendencies in the context of proliferating international biennial exhibitions, curatorial place-bound projects, and strategies by which artists increasingly unsettle the definition and legitimation of situation-based art.

    Artists Surveyed Vito Acconci, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Carl Andre, Artist Placement Group, Michael Asher, Amy Balkin, Ursula Biemann, Bik Van der Pol, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Janet Cardiff, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Adam Chodzko, Collective Actions, Tacita Dean, Elmgreen & Dragset, Andrea Fraser, Hamish Fulton, Dan Graham, Liam Gillick, Renée Green, Group Material, Douglas Huebler, Bethan Huws, Pierre Huyghe, Robert Irwin, Emily Jacir, Ilya Kabakov, Leopold Kessler, Július Koller, Langlands & Bell, Ligna, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Graeme Miller, Jonathan Monk, Robert Morris, Gabriel Orozco, Walid Ra'ad, Raqs Media Collective, Paul Rooney, Martha Rosler, Allen Ruppersberg, Richard Serra, Situationist International, Tony Smith, Robert Smithson, Vivan Sundaram, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lawrence Weiner, Rachel Whiteread, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Qiu Zhijie

    Writers Arjun Appaduri, Marc Augé, Wim Beeren, Josephine Berry Slater, Daniel Birnbaum, Ava Bromberg, Susan Buck-Morss, Michel de Certeau, Douglas Crimp, Gilles Deleuze, T. J. Demos, Rosalyn Deutsche, Thierry de Duve, Charles Esche, Graeme Evans, Patricia Falguières, Marina Fokidis, Hal Foster, Hou Hanrou, Brian Holmes, Mary Jane Jacob, Vasif Kortun, Miwon Kwon, Lu Jie, Doreen Massey, James Meyer, Ivo Mesquita, Brian O'Doherty, Craig Owens, Irit Rogoff, Peter Weibel

    • Paperback $24.95
  • Art School

    Art School

    (Propositions for the 21st Century)

    Steven Henry Madoff

    Leading international artists and art educators consider the challenges of art education in today's dramatically changed art world.

    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. Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century) brings together more than thirty leading international artists and art educators to reconsider the practices of art education in academic, practical, ethical, and philosophical terms. The essays in the book range over continents, histories, traditions, experiments, and fantasies of education. Accompanying the essays are conversations with such prominent artist/educators as John Baldessari, Michael Craig-Martin, Hans Haacke, and Marina Abramovic, as well as questionnaire responses from a dozen important artists—among them Mike Kelley, Ann Hamilton, Guillermo Kuitca, and Shirin Neshat—about their own experiences as students. A fascinating analysis of the architecture of major historical art schools throughout the world looks at the relationship of the principles of their designs to the principles of the pedagogy practiced within their halls. And throughout the volume, attention is paid to new initiatives and proposals about what an art school can and should be in the twenty-first century—and what it shouldn't be. No other book on the subject covers more of the questions concerning art education today or offers more insight into the pressures, challenges, risks, and opportunities for artists and art educators in the years ahead.

    Contributors Marina Abramovic, Dennis Adams, John Baldessari, Ute Meta Bauer, Daniel Birnbaum, Saskia Bos, Tania Bruguera, Luis Camnitzer, Michael Craig-Martin, Thierry de Duve, Clémentine Deliss, Charles Esche, Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Hans Haacke, Ann Lauterbach, Ken Lum, Steven Henry Madoff, Brendan D. Moran, Ernesto Pujol, Raqs Media Collective, Charles Renfro, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Michael Shanks, Robert Storr, Anton Vidokle

    • Paperback $44.95 £38.00
  • ...dontstopdontstopdontstopdontstop

    ...dontstopdontstopdontstopdontstop

    Hans-Ulrich Obrist and April Lamm

    Writings from 1990–2006 by visionary curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.

    “If art takes place in a contemporary art museum (where we expect it), what does it mean? Art should not be about filling spaces, but about necessities and urgencies.” Such are the principles conveyed by the visionary Hans Ulrich Obrist, seeking out ways to reinvent and invent museums of the 21st century. Newly edited by April Lamm, gathered together here are the seminal texts written by (what Douglas Gordon once aptly described) a “dontstop” curator. His exhibitions present, as Rem Koolhaas writes in his preface to these prefaces, “a heroic effort to preserve the traces of intelligence of the last 50 years, to make sense of the seemingly disjointed, a hedge against the systematic forgetting that is hidden at the core of the information age and which may, in fact, be its secret agenda....”

    A compendium of texts written between 1990 and 2006, here are exhibition case studies – “Hotel Carlton Palace,” “Cities on the Move,” “Do It,” “Utopia Station” – involving some of the more thought-provoking artists, architects, and scientists of our time such as Paul Chan, Alexander Dorner, Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Douglas Gordon, Pierre Huyghe, Qingyung Ma, Philippe Parreno, Cedric Price, Luc Steels, Rirkrit Tiravanija, among others, from Zurich to Guangzhou and back again. Designed by M/M (Paris), the cover depicts an original Gerhard Richter over-painted picture of Obrist himself. A must-have for anyone interested in the unusual strategies of a curator-at-large.

    • Paperback $19.95