"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.
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.
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 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.
Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma, but he belongs to Los Angeles in a way few other artists do. Since the 1960s, Ruscha's iconic images of the cityscape and culture of L.A.—freeway gas stations, parking lots, palm trees, motels, swimming pools, and billboards—have both reflected and shaped popular perceptions of Hollywood and the city that surrounds it. In Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles, Alexandra Schwartz views Ruscha's groundbreaking early work as a window onto the radically shifting cultural and political landscape in which it was produced.
Still little-known in the United States, Richard Hamilton is a key figure in twentieth-century art. An original member of the legendary Independent Group in London in the 1950s, Hamilton organized or participated in groundbreaking exhibitions associated with the group--in particular This Is Tomorrow (1956), for which his celebrated collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, crystallizing the postwar world of consumer capitalism, was made.
The last explosive change in art education came nearly a century ago, when the German Bauhaus was formed. Today, dramatic changes in the art world—its increasing professionalization, the pervasive power of the art market, and fundamental shifts in art-making itself in our post-Duchampian era—combined with a revolution in information technology, raise fundamental questions about the education of today’s artists.
The contemporary painter Gerhard Richter (born in 1932) has been heralded both as modernity’s last painter and as painting’s modern savior, seen to represent both the end of painting and its resurrection. Richter works in a dizzying variety of styles, from abstraction to a German cool pop that combines painterly technique and appropriation; his work includes photo paintings, large abstract canvases, and stained glass windows.