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The Arts

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Without boredom, arguably there is no modernity. The current sense of the word emerged simultaneously with industrialization, mass politics, and consumerism. From Manet onwards, when art represents the everyday within modern life, encounters with tedium are inevitable. And starting with modernism’s retreat into abstraction through subsequent demands placed on audiences, from the late 1960s to the present, the viewer’s endurance of repetition, slowness or other forms of monotony has become an anticipated feature of gallery-going.

Selected Writings on Film

The celebrated critic and film scholar Annette Michelson saw the avant-garde filmmakers of the 1950s and 1960s as radically redefining and extending the Modernist tradition of painting and sculpture, and in essays that were as engaging as they were influential and as lucid as they were learned, she set out to demonstrate the importance of the underappreciated medium of film.

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.

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.

In this original and provocative study of computational creativity in music, David Cope asks whether computer programs can effectively model creativity—and whether computer programs themselves can create. Defining musical creativity, and distinguishing it from creativity in other arts, Cope presents a series of experimental models that illustrate salient features of musical creativity. He makes the case that musical creativity results from a process that he calls inductive association, and he contends that such a computational process can in fact produce music creatively.

“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? 
 

This groundbreaking and richly illustrated book tells a new story of the twentieth century’s most influential artist, recounted not so much through his artwork as through his “non-art” work. Marcel Duchamp is largely understood in critical and popular discourse in terms of the objects he produced, whether readymade or meticulously fabricated. Elena Filipovic asks us instead to understand Duchamp’s art through activities not normally seen as artistic—from exhibition making and art dealing to administrating and publicizing.

Camping can make us feel a powerful connection to nature and our rugged backwoods forebears. Campers once confronted the elemental facts of life, but now, the millions of Americans taking to the road on camping trips are more likely to drive to a campground, hook up service conduits, connect to WiFi, drop their awnings, and set out patio chairs. It is as if, Martin Hogue observes, each campsite functions as a stage upon which campers perform a series of ritualized activities (pitching the tent, building a fire, cooking over flames).

From Participation to Interaction in Contemporary Art

How are we to understand works of art that are realized with the physical involvement of the viewer? A relationship between a work of art and its audience that is rooted in an experience that is both aesthetic and physical? Today, these works often use digital technologies, but artists have created participatory works since the 1950s. In this book, critics, writers, and artists offer diverse perspectives on this kind of “practicable” art that bridges contemplation and use, discussing and documenting a wide variety of works from the last several decades.

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