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Criticism & Theory

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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.

Warhol Marilyn

Warhol Marilyn (1965) is not a work by Andy Warhol but by the artist Elaine Sturtevant (1930–2014). Throughout her career, Sturtevant (as she preferred to be called) remade and exhibited works by other contemporary artists, among them Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. For Warhol Marilyn, Sturtevant used one of Warhol’s own silkscreens from his series of Marilyn printed multiples. (When asked how he made his silkscreened work, Warhol famously answered, “I don’t know.

Edited by Gilda Williams

The impact of Andy Warhol on contemporary culture is incalculable. Painter, sculptor, printmaker, filmmaker, publisher, TV personality, socialite, diarist, graphic artist, collector, curator, illustrator, rock impresario, photographer, model, and author, he was a pioneer in virtually every medium in which he worked. From blotted-line advertising illustrations for I.

Simone Forti in the 1960s and After

Simone Forti’s art developed within the overlapping circles of New York City’s advanced visual art, dance, and music of the early 1960s. Her “dance constructions” and related works of the 1960s were important for both visual art and dance of the era. Artists Robert Morris and Yvonne Rainer have both acknowledged her influence.

Edited by Jennifer King

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.

Materiality has reappeared as a highly contested topic in recent art. Modernist criticism tended to privilege form over matter—considering material as the essentialized basis of medium specificity—and technically based approaches in art history reinforced connoisseurship through the science of artistic materials. But in order to engage critically with the meaning, for example, of hair in David Hammons’s installations, milk in the work of Dieter Roth, or latex in the sculptures of Eva Hesse, we need a very different set of methodological tools.

Edited by Omar Kholeif

This anthology examines the expanded field of the moving image in recent art, tracing the genealogies of contemporary moving image work in performance, body art, experimental film, installation, and site-specific art from the 1960s to the present day. Contextualizing new developments made possible by advances in digital and networked technology, it locates contemporary practice within a global framework.

Edited by Rachel Churner

For five decades, the artist Hans Haacke (b. 1936) has created works that explore the social, political, and economic underpinnings of the production of art. His works make plain the hidden and not-so-hidden agendas of those—from Cartier to David Koch—who support art in the service of industry; they expose such inconvenient social and economic truths as the real estate holdings of Manhattan slumlords, and the attempts to whitewash support for the Nazi regime, apartheid, or the war on terror through museum donations.

Writings and Interviews, 1964-2004

Jack Burnham is one of the few critics and theorists alive today who can claim to have radically altered the way we think about works of art. Burnham’s use of the term “system” (borrowed from theoretical biology) in his 1968 essay “System Aesthetics” announced the relational character of conceptual art and newer research-based projects. Trained as an art historian, Burnham was also a sculptor. His first book, Beyond Modern Sculpture (1968), established him as a leading commentator on art and technology.

Inventing the Singular

Yayoi Kusama is the most famous artist to emerge from Japan in the period following World War II. Part of a burgeoning international art scene in the early 1960s, she exhibited in New York with Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, and other Pop and Minimalist luminaries, and in Europe with the Dutch Nul and the German Zero artist groups. Known for repetitive patterns, sewn soft sculptures, naked performance, and suggestive content, Kusama’s work anticipated the politically charged feminist art of the 1970s.

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