David Joselit

David Joselit is Distinguished Professor in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center at CUNY. He is the author of Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910–1941, Feedback: Television against Democracy (both published by the MIT Press), American Art Since 1945, and After Art.

  • Heritage and Debt

    Heritage and Debt

    Art in Globalization

    David Joselit

    How global contemporary art reanimates the past as a resource for the present, combating modern art's legacy of Eurocentrism.

    If European modernism was premised on the new—on surpassing the past, often by assigning it to the “traditional” societies of the Global South—global contemporary art reanimates the past as a resource for the present. In this account of what globalization means for contemporary art, David Joselit argues that the creative use of tradition by artists from around the world serves as a means of combatting modern art's legacy of Eurocentrism. Modernism claimed to live in the future and relegated the rest of the world to the past. Global contemporary art shatters this myth by reactivating various forms of heritage—from literati ink painting in China to Aboriginal painting in Australia—in order to propose new and different futures. Joselit analyzes not only how heritage becomes contemporary through the practice of individual artists but also how a cultural infrastructure of museums, biennials, and art fairs worldwide has emerged as a means of generating economic value, attracting capital and tourist dollars.

    Joselit traces three distinct forms of modernism that developed outside the West, in opposition to Euro-American modernism: postcolonial, socialist realism, and the underground. He argues that these modern genealogies are synchronized with one another and with Western modernism to produce global contemporary art. Joselit discusses curation and what he terms “the curatorial episteme,” which, through its acts of framing or curating, can become a means of recalibrating hierarchies of knowledge—and can contribute to the dual projects of decolonization and deimperialization.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00
  • Feedback

    Feedback

    Television against Democracy

    David Joselit

    In a world where politics is conducted through images, the tools of art history can be used to challenge the privatized antidemocratic sphere of American television.

    American television embodies a paradox: it is a privately owned and operated public communications network that most citizens are unable to participate in except as passive specators. Television creates an image of community while preventing the formation of actual social ties because behind its simulated exchange of opinions lies a highly centralized corporate structure that is profoundly antidemocratic. In Feedback, David Joselit describes the privatized public sphere of television and recounts the tactics developed by artists and media activists in the 1960s and 1970s to break open its closed circuit.

    The figures whose work Joselit examines—among them Nam June Paik, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, Abbie Hoffman, Andy Warhol, and Melvin Van Peebles—staged political interventions within television's closed circuit. Joselit identifies three kinds of image-events: feedback, which can be both disabling noise and rational response—as when Abbie Hoffman hijacked television time for the Yippies with flamboyant stunts directed to the media; the image-virus, which proliferates parasitically, invading, transforming, and even blocking systems—as in Nam June Paik's synthesized videotapes and installations; and the avatar, a quasi-fictional form of identity available to anyone, which can function as a political actor—as in Melvin Van Peebles's invention of Sweet Sweetback, an African-American hero who appealed to a broad audience and influenced styles of Black Power activism. These strategies, writes Joselit, remain valuable today in a world where the overlapping information circuits of television and the Internet offer different opportunities for democratic participation.

    In Feedback, Joselit analyzes such midcentury image-events using the procedures and categories of art history. The trope of figure/ground reversal, for instance, is used to assess acts of representation in a variety of media—including the medium of politics. In a televisual world, Joselit argues, where democracy is conducted through images, art history has the capacity to become a political science.

    • Hardcover $5.75 £4.99
    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • Infinite Regress

    Infinite Regress

    Marcel Duchamp 1910-1941

    David Joselit

    In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career.

    There is not one Marcel Duchamp, but several. Within his oeuvre Duchamp practiced a variety of modernist idioms and invented an array of contradictory personas: artist and art dealer, conceptualist and craftsman, chess champion and dreamer, dandy and recluse. In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career. Taking into account underacknowledged works and focusing on the conjunction of the machine and the commodity in Duchamp's art, Joselit notes a consistent opposition between the material world and various forms of measurement, inscription, and quantification. Challenging conventional accounts, he describes the readymade strategy not merely as a rejection of painting, but as a means of producing new models of the modern self.

    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00
  • Infinite Regress

    Infinite Regress

    Marcel Duchamp 1910–1941

    David Joselit

    This synthetic reading of Marcel Duchamp considers the enigmatic artists's multiple personas and artistic strategies.

    There is not one Marcel Duchamp, but several. Within his oeuvre Duchamp practiced a variety of modernist idioms and invented an array of contradictory personas: artist and art dealer, conceptualist and craftsman, chess champion and dreamer, dandy and recluse. In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career. Taking into account underacknowledged works and focusing on the conjunction of the machine and the commodity in Duchamp's art, Joselit notes a consistent opposition between the material world and various forms of measurement, inscription, and quantification. Challenging conventional accounts, he describes the readymade strategy not merely as a rejection of painting, but as a means of producing new models of the modern self.

    • Hardcover $60.00
  • Utopia Post Utopia

    Configurations of Nature and Culture in Recent Sculpture and Photography

    Fredric Jameson, Alice Jardine, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Éric Michaud, Elisabeth Sussman, and David Joselit

    Much of the art and art theory of the 1980s has addressed the question Abigail Solomon-Godeau asks in her essay for this book: whether "the art object can carve a place for itself outside the determinations of the already-written, the already-seen, the sign." Utopia Post Utopia takes up the debate on this issue which has crystallized around the theoretical opposition between nature and culture, or more specifically the analysis of a nature (human and otherwise) which is culturally produced. Utopia Post Utopia approaches the nature-culture opposition from both the point of view of the lingering nostalgia for an essential nature, as well as the aggressive replacement of "reality" with simulations of both the natural and man-made environment. It documents two shows: a sculptural installation conceived by Robert Gober including work by himself, Meg Webster, and Richard Prince; and an exhibition of photography by James Welling, Oliver Wasow, Dorit Cypis, Lorna Simpson, Jeff Wall, and Larry Johnson. In addition to Abigail Solomon-Godeau's contribution, essays by Fredric Jameson, Alice Jardine, Eric Michaud, Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit critically examine such issues as the problematic nature of utopian impulses in recent art (Jameson); the question of authenticity (Jardine); the shifting relationship between the represented and real worlds (Michaud); the phenomenon of collaboration and ensemble in recent art production (Sussman); and meaning of photographic serialization and superimposition (Joselit). Distributed for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston where Elisabeth Sussman is Chief Curator and David Joselit Curator.

    • Paperback $13.95

Contributor

  • Painting beyond Itself

    Painting beyond Itself

    The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition

    Isabelle Graw and Ewa Lajer-Burcharth

    In response to recent developments in pictorial practice and critical discourse, Painting beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-medium Condition seeks new ways to approach and historicize the question of the medium. Reaching back to the earliest theoretical and institutional definitions of painting, this book—based on a conference at Harvard University in 2013—focuses on the changing role of materiality in establishing painting as the privileged practice, discourse, and institution of modernity. Myriad conceptions of the medium and its specificity are explored by an international group of scholars, critics, and artists. Painting beyond Itself is a forum for rich historical, theoretical, and practice-grounded conversation.

    Contributors Carol Armstrong, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Sabeth Buchmann, René Démoris, Isabelle Graw, David Joselit, Jutta Koether, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, Julie Mehretu, Matt Saunders, Amy Sillman

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Super Vision

    Super Vision

    Nicholas Baume

    Leading contemporary artists, including Bridget Riley, Jeff Koons, Mona Hatoum, Andreas Gursky, and Yoko Ono, explore the ecstatic and the threatening aspects of contemporary visual experience.

    New technology enables super vision—both superhuman visual powers and actual supervision by surveillance. In Super Vision, which accompanies the inaugural exhibit at the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, a broad selection of important works in a variety of media expresses both the ecstatic and the threatening aspects of vision and reveals visual experience as a source of both pleasure and fear. These works reflect the digital era's profound shift in the nature of visuality itself—as computer graphics and imaging, digitization, and virtuality have transformed both the nature of representation and our relationship to it. Among the leading contemporary artists exploring the changing nature of contemporary visual experience in Super Vision are Bridget Riley, Anish Kapoor, and Gabriel Orozco, with works that bend, twist, and dissolve space, leaving us unsure of the boundaries between inside and outside, surface and depth, self and others. Other works by artists including Jeff Koons, Julie Mehretu, and Andreas Gursky, express aspects of virtuality—some explicitly, some more subtly—and explore the changes in the way we see and understand two-dimensional images. Vision in the twenty-first century is potentially everywhere, all the time; there is no way to escape it. Works by Sigmar Polke, Yoko Ono, Tony Oursler, Thomas Ruff, and others respond in complex ways to this disembodied and penetrating quality of vision. The many full-color images in Super Vision are accompanied by essays by exhibition curator Nicholas Baume, art historian David Joselit, and media theorist McKenzie Wark. Copublished with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

    • Hardcover $8.75 £6.99