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Contemporary Art

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Art and the Crisis of the Common Good

How should we understand the purpose of publicly engaged art in the twenty-first century, when the very term “public art” is largely insufficient to describe such practices? 

The Writings of Hans Haacke

Hans Haacke’s art articulates the interdependence of multiple elements. An artwork is not merely an object but is also its context—the economic, social, and political conditions of the art world and the world at large.

Edited by Mignon Nixon

When Mary Kelly’s best-known work, Post-Partum Document (1973–1979), was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1976, it caused a sensation--an unexpected response to an intellectually demanding and aesthetically restrained installation of conceptual art. The reception signaled resistance to the work's interrogation of feminine identity and the cultural mythologizing of motherhood.

Edited by Filipa Ramos

Animals have become the focus of much recent art, informing numerous works and projects featured at major exhibitions including dOCUMENTA (13) (2013), the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014), and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Contemporary art has emerged as a privileged terrain for exploring interspecies relationships, providing the conditions for diverse disciplines and theoretical positions to engage with animal behavior and consciousness.

Edited by Sarah Cook

This anthology provides the first art-historical reassessment of information-based art in relation to data structures and exhibition curation. It examines such landmark exhibitions as “Information” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and the equally influential “Les Immatériaux,” initiated by the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 1984. It reexamines work by artists of the 1960s to early 1980s, from Les Levine and N. E. Thing Co. to General Idea and Jenny Holzer, whose prescient grasp of information’s significance resonates today.

Culture, Cognition, and the Common Sense

Experience offers a reading experience like no other. A heat-sensitive cover by Olafur Eliasson reveals words, colors, and a drawing when touched by human hands. Endpapers designed by Carsten Höller are printed in ink containing carefully calibrated quantities of the synthesized human pheromones estratetraenol and androstadienone, evoking the suggestibility of human desire. The margins and edges of the book are designed by Tauba Auerbach in complementary colors that create a dynamically shifting effect when the book is shifted or closed.

Night Sea

Agnes Martin’s Night Sea (1963) is a large canvas of hand-drawn rectangular grids painted in luminous blue and gold. In this illustrated study, Suzanne Hudson presents the painting as the work of an artist who was also a thinker, poet, and writer for whom self-presentation was a necessary part of making her works public. With Night Sea, Hudson argues, Martin (1912–2004) created a shimmering realization of control and loss that stands alone within her suite of classic grid paintings as an exemplary and exceptional achievement.

Once considered a mere caretaker for collections, the curator is now widely viewed as a globally connected auteur. Over the last twenty-five years, as international group exhibitions and biennials have become the dominant mode of presenting contemporary art to the public, curatorship has begun to be perceived as a constellation of creative activities not unlike artistic praxis. The curator has gone from being a behind-the-scenes organizer and selector to a visible, centrally important cultural producer.

Edited by Bruno Latour

Modernity has had so many meanings and tries to combine so many contradictory sets of attitudes and values that it has become impossible to use it to define the future. It has ended up crashing like an overloaded computer. Hence the idea is that modernity might need a sort of reset.

What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice?

Today curators are sometimes more famous than the artists whose work they curate, and curatorship involves more than choosing objects for an exhibition. The expansion of the curatorial field in recent decades has raised questions about exhibition-making itself and the politics of production, display, and distribution. The Curatorial Conundrum looks at the burgeoning field of curatorship and tries to imagine its future.

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