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Criticism & Theory

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Bliz-aard Ball Sale

One wintry day in 1983, alongside other street sellers in the East Village, David Hammons peddled snowballs of various sizes. He had neatly laid them out in graduated rows and spent the day acting as obliging salesman.

Girlfriends

The artist Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) worked across a broad range of media—including photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and film—and in styles that varied from abstract expressionism to Pop. This volume in Afterall’s One Work series offers an illustrated exploration of Freundinnen (Girlfriends 1965/66), one of Polke’s important early paintings. Taken from a found image of two young women, and using the raster dots also found in mass media reproductions, Girlfriends offers a statement about the use and social function of images. 

Since the 1970s, the South African artist William Kentridge has charted the turbulent terrain of his homeland in both personal and political terms. With erudition, absurdist humor, and an underlying hope in humankind, Kentridge’s artwork has examined apartheid, humanitarian atrocities, aging, and the ambiguities of growing up white and Jewish in South Africa. This October Files volume brings together critical essays and interviews that explore Kentridge’s work and shed light on the unique working processes behind his drawings, prints, stop-animation films, and theater works.

Over the past twenty years, the network has come to dominate the art world, affecting not just interaction among art professionals but the very makeup of the art object itself. The hierarchical and restrictive structure of the museum has been replaced by temporary projects scattered across the globe, staffed by free agents hired on short-term contracts, viewed by spectators defined by their predisposition to participate and make connections.

Art From Bureaucracy

The typewriter, the card index, and the filing cabinet: these are technologies and modalities of the archive. To the bureaucrat, archives contain little more than garbage, paperwork no longer needed; to the historian, on the other hand, the archive’s content stands as a quasi-objective correlative of the “living” past.

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.

“Machine art” is neither a movement nor a genre, but encompasses diverse ways in which artists engage with technical systems. In this book, Andreas Broeckmann examines a variety of twentieth- and early twenty-first-century artworks that articulate people’s relationships with machines. In the course of his investigation, Broeckmann traces historical lineages that connect art of different periods, looking for continuities that link works from the end of the century to developments in the 1950s and 1960s and to works by avant-garde artists in the 1910s and 1920s.

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.

The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories gathers together Lynne Tillman’s groundbreaking fiction/essays on culture and places, monuments, artworks, iconic TV shows, and received ideas, written in the third person to record the subtle, ironic, and wry observations of the playful but stern “Madame Realism.”

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