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Criticism & Theory

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Marcel Duchamp was a famous expatriate, a wanderer, living and working in Paris, New York, and Buenos Aires and escaping from each in turn. But exile, argues T. J. Demos in this innovative reading, is more than a fact in Duchamp’s biography. Exile--in the artist’s own words, a “spirit of expatriation”--infuses Duchamp’s entire artistic practice..

Communal (Post)Modernism in Russia

In The Museological Unconscious, Victor Tupitsyn views the history of Russian contemporary art through a distinctly Russian lens, a "communal optic" that registers the influence of such characteristically Russian phenomena as communal living, communal perception, and communal speech practices. This way of looking at the subject allows him to gather together a range of artists and art movements—from socialist realism to its "dangerous supplement," sots art, and from alternative photography to feminism—as if they were tenants in a large Moscow apartment.

Edited by Nadja Rottner

Claes Oldenburg (born in 1929) is largely known today as a pop art sculptor. Oldenburg himself described his formless canvas and vinyl soft sculptures--gigantic hamburgers and ice cream cones, cushiony toilets and typewriters--as “objects that elude definition.” This collection of writings revisits not only Oldenburg’s soft objects from the early to mid 1960s but also his pioneering installations The Street (1960) and The Store (1961–1962) and his often overlooked multimedia performances.

In Under Blue Cup, Rosalind Krauss explores the relation of aesthetic mediums to memory—her own memory having been severely tested by a ruptured aneurysm that temporarily washed away much of her short-term memory. (The title, Under Blue Cup, comes from the legend on a flash card she used as a mnemonic tool during cognitive therapy.) Krauss emphasizes the medium as a form of remembering; contemporary artists in what she terms the “post-medium” condition reject that scaffolding.

An Anthology of Artists' Writings

"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.

Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art

In Where Art Belongs, Chris Kraus examines artistic enterprises of the past decade that reclaim the use of lived time as a material in the creation of visual art.

Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its "blackness," with audiences often expecting or requiring it to "represent" the race. In How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness, Darby English shows how severely such expectations limit the scope of our knowledge about this work and how different it looks when approached on its own terms.

Étant donnés

Following Marcel Duchamp's death in 1968, the Philadelphia Museum of Art stunned the art world by unveiling a project on which he had been working secretly for twenty years, long after he had supposedly given up art for chess.

Language in 1960s Art

Language has been a primary element in visual art since the 1960s—in the form of printed texts, painted signs, words on the wall, recorded speech, and more. In Words to Be Looked At, Liz Kotz traces this practice to its beginnings, examining works of visual art, poetry, and experimental music created in and around New York City from 1958 to 1968. In many of these works, language has been reduced to an object nearly emptied of meaning.

  • Page 4 of 16