Michael Asher

Michael Asher was a conceptual artist often associated with site specificity and institutional critique. For many years he taught the famous and influential “Post Studio” class at California Institute of the Arts.

  • Public Knowledge

    Public Knowledge

    Selected Writings by Michael Asher

    Michael Asher and Kirsi Peltomäki

    Writings by the conceptual artist Michael Asher—including notes, proposals, exhibition statements, and letters to curators and critics—most published here for the first time.

    The California conceptual artist Michael Asher (1943–2012) was known for rigorous site specificity and pioneering institutional critique. His decades of teaching at CalArts influenced generations of artists. Much of Asher's artistic practice was devoted to creating works that had no lasting material presence and often responded to the material, social, or ideological context of a situation. Because most of Asher's artworks have ceased to exist, his writings about them have special significance. Public Knowledge collects writings by Asher about his work—including preliminary notes and ideas, project proposals, exhibition statements, and letters to curators and critics—most of which have never been previously published.

    Asher gave few interviews, didn't write art criticism, and rarely published extensive accounts of his own work. Yet writing was central to his artistic practice, serving as a tool for working out ideas, negotiating institutional parameters, and describing thought processes. In these texts, he considers writing and documentation, discusses artistic practice, offers notes for gallery and museum talks, presents artist statements for exhibition-goers, describes individual works and their situational context, and reflects on teaching and art education. Among other things, Asher provides his definition of site specificity, addresses the function of art in public space, and analyzes the intersection of teaching art and institutional models of education. Readers will see an artist at work, formulating ethical and political strategies for making art in a situational world.

    • Hardcover $29.95 £25.00

Contributor

  • Michael Asher

    Michael Asher

    Jennifer King

    Essays and criticism that span Michael Asher's career, documenting site-specific installations and institutional interventions.

    During a career that spanned more than forty years, from the late 1960s until his death in 2012, Michael Asher created site-specific installations and institutional interventions that examined the conditions of art's production, display, and reception. At the Art Institute of Chicago, for example, he famously relocated a bronze replica of an eighteenth-century sculpture of George Washington from the museum's entrance to an interior gallery, thereby highlighting the disjunction between the statue's symbolic function as a public monument and its aesthetic origins as an artwork.

    Today, Asher is celebrated as one of the forerunners of institutional critique. Yet because of Asher's situation-based method of working, and his resistance to making objects that could circulate in the art market, few of his works survive in physical form. What does survive is writing by scholars and critics about his diverse practice. The essays in this volume document projects that range from Asher's environmental works and museum displacements to his research-based presentations and reflections on urban space.

    Contributors Michael Asher, Sandy Ballatore, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Jennifer King, Miwon Kwon, Barbara Munger, Stephan Pascher, Birgit Pelzer, Anne Rorimer, Allan Sekula

    • Hardcover $19.75 £15.99
    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • Institutional Critique

    Institutional Critique

    An Anthology of Artists' Writings

    Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson

    An anthology of writings and projects by artists who developed and extended the genre of institutional critique.

    "Institutional critique” is an artistic practice that reflects critically on its own housing in galleries and museums and on the concept and social function of art itself. Such concerns have always been a part of modern art but took on new urgency at the end of the 1960s, when—driven by the social upheaval of the time and enabled by the tools and techniques of conceptual art—institutional critique emerged as a genre. This anthology traces the development of institutional critique as an artistic concern from the 1960s to the present by gathering writings and representative art projects of artists from across Europe and throughout the Americas who developed and extended the genre. The texts and artworks included are notable for the range of perspectives and positions they reflect and for their influence in pushing the boundaries of what is meant by institutional critique. Like Alberro and Stimson's Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology this volume will shed new light on its subject through its critical and historical framing. Even readers already familiar with institutional critique will come away from this book with a greater and often redirected understanding of its significance.

    Artists represented include Wieslaw Borowski, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel, Hans Haacke, Robert Smithson, John Knight, Graciela Carnevale, Osvaldo Mateo Boglione, Guerilla Art Action Group, Art Workers' Coalition, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Michael Asher, Mel Ramsden, Adrian Piper, The Guerrilla Girls, Laibach, Silvia Kolbowski, Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, Mark Dion, Maria Eichhorn, Critical Art Ensemble, Bureau d'Études, WochenKlausur, The Yes Men, Hito Steyerl, Andreas Siekmann.

    • Hardcover $39.95 £32.00
    • Paperback $59.95 £50.00