“What Was Contemporary Art?: An Introduction”

“What Was Contemporary Art?: An Introduction”

>>So good evening everyone. My name is Michael Taylor, the director of
the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 8th Annual Dr. Allen W. Root
Contemporary Art Distinguished Lecture at the Hood Museum of Art. I would like to thank Allen and Janet Root,
who are in the audience with us today, and to also recognize their
granddaughter, Gillian, who is a member of the class
of 2014 at Dartmouth. Dr. Root graduated from Dartmouth in
1955 as did his son Jonathon in 1982 and his daughter Jennifer in 1995. This family bleeds green, and we love that. Because of their father’s passionate interest
in contemporary art, Jonathon, Jennifer, and their other son, Michael Root, established
this lectureship in honor of their father, a renowned pediatric endocrinologist and also
a collector of modern and contemporary art. It is a great privilege for me to introduce this
evening’s speaker, who is Dr. Richard Meyer. Richard Meyer is one of the
foremost art historians in the field of 20th Century American Art and Visual Culture. He is the professor of art history at Stanford
University and has also taught at the University of Southern California; the Courtauld
Institute in London, my alma mater; the University of Pennsylvania;
and Columbia University. At USC, he was also from 2008 to 2011
the director of visual graduate studies and was an affiliated faculty member
in American studies and ethnicity. He received his BA from Yale University and
his PhD in art history from the University of California Berkley, and his doctoral
dissertation led to the landmark publication, “Outlaw Representations, Censorship in
Homosexuality in 20th Century American Art,” which was published to great critical
acclaim by Oxford University Press in 2002. He is also the author of “Naked
Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles” in 2011 and has 2 publication projects
forthcoming in 2013. The first, for which he is co-author with
Catherine Lord, is titled “Art in Queer Culture” and will be published by Phaidon Press. The second, which relates to the topic
of this evening’s lecture, is titled, “What was Contemporary Art” and
will be published MIT Press. So both in 2013. Richard was also the co-editor of Weegee
in Naked City in 2008, and in 2003, he edited the volume, “Representing
the Passions, Histories, Bodies, and Visions” for the Getty Research Institute. In 2006, Richard was co-editor of
a 2-part issue of the journal, GLQ, a journal of lesbian and gay studies. He has served as curator of exhibitions
as well including “Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles” at the Museum of
Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2011 and “Warhol’s Jews, Ten Portraits Reconsidered,”
at the Jewish Museum in New York in 2008. I saw both of those exhibitions, and
they were absolutely outstanding. He’s the author of numerous
journal articles and edited volumes with such thought-provoking titles
as “Big Middle Class Modernism,” “Artists Sometimes Have Feelings,” “Gay
Power Circa 1970,” “Visual Strategies for Sexual Revolution,” “Mind the Gap,”
“Americanist, Modernist, and the Boundaries of 20th Century Art,” “The Jesse Helms Theory of
Art,” “Have you Heard the One About the Lesbian Who Goes to the Supreme Court,” “This is
to Enrage You: Grand Fury and the Graphics of AIDS Activism,” “Robert Mapplethorpe
and the Discipline of Photography,” and “Los Angeles Meant Boys:
David Hockney, Bob Mizer, and the Lure of Physique
Photography” to name but a few. Those are just my favorite titles [laughter]. Richard has been the recipient of numerous
awards including the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Outstanding Scholarship in American Art, which was awarded by the Smithsonian American
Art Museum; the Mellon Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring; and the Albert S.
Raubenheimer Award for Outstanding Teaching, Research, and Service to
University of Southern California. His talk this evening is entitled, “What
was Contemporary Art: An Introduction.” Please join me in welcoming Dr. Richard Meyer. [ Applause ]>>Thanks. I first met Michael Taylor 6 years ago
in Philadelphia when he was a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I was a
visiting professor of contemporary art history at the University of Pennsylvania, and I was
immediately struck by his generosity of spirit and of intellect, and I’m delighted to have this
opportunity to reunite with him and to meet all of you here at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth. This is my first time visiting
not only Dartmouth but New Hampshire so I’m very happy to be here. The book project I was working on at the time
I met Michael, the one I finally finished and I’m to preview for you here today,
that book project addresses the tension between contemporary art and art history. How it asks can contemporary works
be part of the history of art when those works have not been time tested
or vetted, when the necessary critical and historical distance has
not yet been achieved. How in deed can there even be something
called contemporary art history? And I’ll remind you that I was a visiting
professor of contemporary art history at Penn but even as I accepted the position I was sort
of wondering, well what is this strange beast, and that’s where the book comes in. So I’m showing you. This is the cover of the book. It features a young woman, one Miss Polly
Cotter, facing off against a Plexiglas sculpture by Alexander Calder at the
Plastics Exhibition held at the Institute of Modern
Art in Boston in 1940. The sculpture had recently won first
prize in an art contest sponsored by the chemical manufacturing
company Rohm and Haas, the inventors and commercial distributors of Plexiglas. Created by the company as a
shatter-proof alternative to glass in 1933, Plexiglas was introduced to American markets
within the context of military production, so it was first used for cockpit
covers, wind screens, and weapon mounts. The sculptural competition in 1939 underscored
the possibility of an aesthetic rather than strictly utilitarian or
militarist application of the material. As the winning entry in the competition, and
here’s the sculpture from a different angle, it’s the same sculpture you’re seeing here. As the winning entry, Calder’s sculpture
was given pride of place in the Rohm and Haas Pavilion at the
1939 New York World’s Fair. That’s what I’m showing you
on the screen on the right. Displayed on a circular table to allow
viewers to approach from all sides, the sculpture was set against
a series of 7 backlit dioramas, each of which demonstrated a different property,
flexibility, lightness, luminosity of Plexiglas, or it’s sister plastic crystallite. And there you see the pavilion,
which features Plexiglas. The showcase is Plexiglas,
crystallite, and Calder’s sculpture. In their very datedness, the picture of Polly
Cotter from 1940 and the Rohn and Hass pavilion from the world fair in 1939 in their
very datedness, these pictures recall that the category of contemporary
art is not a new one. All works of art were once contemporary to
the artist and culture that produced them. Part of the task of the art historian then
is to retrieve a vivid sense of the world into which an art work was introduced
and so to measure the distance between its contemporary moment and
the scholar’s own between say 1939 when Plexiglas had only recently
been introduced and was still kind of a marvel of a material and today. Our return to the past must acknowledge the
impossibility of forging a comprehensive account of the artwork as it really was
while nevertheless attending to the specificity and heft of history. By asking what was contemporary art, I do not
mean to suggest that contemporary art is now over or that we have arrived
at a post-contemporary moment of cultural production, which
some have suggested. Rather, I mean to retrieve selected episodes
in the history of once current art so as to reclaim the contemporary as
a condition of being alive, to, and alongside other moments,
artists, and objects. So something like what we now call
contemporaneous, that is existing along with or alongside, alive at the same moment as. Today, I want to share with you and excerpt
from the book’s introduction and a brief sketch of its principal chapters, and I’m giving fair
warning that we’ll be jumping around quite a bit between different art historicals,
examples and contexts. One of those contexts, which I’ve just briefly
introduced to you, is the plastics exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art in
1940, the Institute of Modern Art, which to great controversy would rename itself
the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1948. And there’s a chapter of the book that
looks at that controversy and through that controversy looks back at the history
of the institute of contemporary/modern art. In the book’s introduction, which I’m
going to turn to now, I seek to explain how and when contemporary art emerged as part of
the discipline of art history, and in doing so, I revisit the doctoral thesis
of a now eminent art historian. The introduction is called,
“The Art Historical Postmortem.” This is an excerpt from the introduction. In 1969, a young woman named Rosalind Krauss
filed a dissertation in the department of fine arts at Harvard University. Fifteen years later, after she had
emerged as one of the leading critical and art historical thinkers of her generation,
Krauss would explain the unorthodox means by which she had chosen her
dissertation topic, and here is a quote, a long quote from Rosalind Krauss,
“I was in fact thinking of a topic in 19th century European Art that would have
been much palatable to my professors at Harvard, but it was going to be difficult
for me to go to France for a year in the middle of this marriage.” She had recently wed Richard Krauss. “I didn’t know what to do until one morning I
woke up to an announcement on my clock radio that a sculptor had been killed in Vermont. I thought it was Tony Caro, because they said
Bennington, Vermont, where he was teaching. I thought, oh, how terrible,
because I knew Tony. Then after a couple of sentences, they repeated
the name, and I realized it was David Smith, I thought, um, I now have a thesis topic. I knew they would never allow me
to do a dissertation on someone who was alive, but he had just died. I went rushing to Harvard to
announce this as my topic.” Within the logic of this anecdote, the shift
from the imagined death of Anthony Caro to the actual one of David Smith
constitutes a passage from personal loss to professional opportunity, from the
register of friendship to that of scholarship, from the terrible thought that a sculptor Krauss
knew firsthand had perished to the recognition of the use value of an entirely
different sculptor’s demise. Death here delivers the artist into history
or at least into the history of art. Sealed off from the possibility of new work,
stylistic shifts, imaginative breakthroughs, or creative disappointments, Smith’s artistic
output could at least be scrutinized, interpreted, and catalogued
by the art historian. Krauss in other words could now write
a thesis on David Smith but only and almost literally over his dead body. Even here however there was a catch. To make Smith more palatable as a topic,
Krauss’ advisors approved her dissertation on the condition that she
prepare a Catalogue Raisonne of Smith’s sculptures as part of this thesis. Krauss Dutifully researched and
photographed some 700 sculptures. So a Catalogue Raisonne as many of you will
know is a catalogue that includes all the works, in this case all the sculptures
by a single artist. Krauss dutifully researched and photographed
some 700 sculptures dating from 1932, the year that Smith turned from
painting to 3-dimensional construction, or what he called drawing in space, to 1965, the year in which he was killed
in an automobile accident. He missed a turn in the road and
was crushed inside his pickup truck. A range of sculptural production I’ve
represented here by showing you construction from 1932 on the left, which is number
4 in Krauss’ Catalogue Raisonne, and Cubi XXVIII from 1965, which is number 676
in Krauss’ catalogue, and it is the last work that David Smith completed
before his death in 1965. The glossary color image of Cubi XXVIII
shown here is not from Krauss’ dissertation. There’s the image from Krauss’ dissertation. It’s the same work but a very different,
oops, different view as you can see in which the images as you might expect
are black and white photographs circa 1969. But the image on the left is from the catalogue
of Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art held in New York City on the evening
of Wednesday, November 9, 2005. Cubi XXVIII, also known that evening as lot
23, sold for $23.8 million to the dealer, Larry Gagosian, who was himself bidding
on behalf of the collector, Eli Broad. The sale of Cubi XXVIII set a new record for
the price of a single work of contemporary art at auction, a record that had in fact
been broken just the night before when Christie’s sold Mark Rothko’s
Homage to Matisse for $22.4 million. So Homage to Matisse only held
the record for less than a day because the very next day Smith’s Cubi XXVIII
broke the record, and of course that’s a record that has now been broken many times since. Though Rothko had been dead
for 35 years and Smith for 40, by the time these records were set, the prices
paid for each man’s work in 2005 raised the bar for the secondary market in
post-war painting and sculpture. Here then, we have the conception of
contemporary art attuned to the logic and temporalities of the auction market rather
than to those of the artist’s life and death. So one question we might ask is
what makes David Smith’s work or Mark Rothko’s work contemporary still in
2005, and I’m suggesting that one of the ways in which it’s contemporary is that it’s
breaking a record for post-war art, and it doesn’t matter any longer that the
artist is deceased because the work is living on in the marketplace and in the culture,
and so the market renews the contemporaneity, the relevance of the work by having it be
a record breaker at a particular auction. The rationale behind the intense bidding
over the Smith sculpture according to the New York Times was “plain
to lovers of contemporary art. The elegantly composed melding of boxes and
columns may be the last example of the series to come on the market for some time. Most of the others are in museums or collections
where they will stay for generations. So this last chance opportunity
was irresistible, which is why the sculpture’s final price was
nearly double its high estimate of $12 million. ” The last sculpture completed by
Smith before his accidental death in 1965 thus becomes 40 years later the last of a highly prized series
available for private purchase. Returning to Krauss’ dissertation
complicates the narrative of Cubi XXVIII’s irresistible lastness
in significant ways, for as it turns out, Smith’s physical death did not mark the
endpoint of his artistic production. Krauss’ catalogue includes 8 sculptures that
were begun by Smith but completed posthumously by Leon Pratt, the artist’s close associate and
welder during the 7 years before Smith’s death. When the catalogue reaches these works,
Krauss steps outside her own sequential system by designating them not with consecutive numbers
but with letters, posthumous A through H. So I’m showing you from 1966 when they were
completed the year after Smith’s death. I’m showing you posthumous E, F,
G, and H from Krauss’ dissertation. I just have to get my water,
sorry [background noise]. Speaking of the needs of the
living [background noise]. Given the exhaustive scope of
Krauss’ Catalogue Raisonne, which traces Smith’s, can you hear me okay? Which traces Smith’s sculptural production
throughout and even beyond his lifetime, the logic that guides that rest of her
dissertation is brilliantly paradoxical. In the long essay, so the dissertation
was 3 chapters that formed an essay, and then the Catalogue Raisonne, which included
almost 700 items, but in the long essay that precedes the catalogue, Krauss
argues that art historical chronology and biographical sequence
are precisely the wrong tools for understanding Smith’s pre-eminence as a
modernist sculpture, as though in response or in revenge to the very advisors who
required her to locate, photograph, and date some 700 sculptures as well as
dig up every public statement, lecture, and radio interview by this famously loquacious
artist, Krauss positioned her interpretation of Smith’s modernism “against the testimony
which a brute chronological succession of works provides” and against “any simple
idea of symbiosis between David Smith and his historical context,” and the first
chapter of the dissertation is called “David Smith’s career beyond
a historical context. In thinking about Krauss’
dismissal of context and of history, it helps to know that she
was working as an art critic at the time she was preparing her dissertation. She was writing especially
for Artforum Magazine and also for Art International and other periodicals. She was reviewing exhibitions
in New York and Boston, and she was developing a
more public writerly voice. Her mentor in this field, the pre-eminent
modernist critic, Clement Greenberg, inculcated in Krauss the lesson
that “the first obligation of an art critic is to deliver value judgments.” So Krauss in the essay is delivering
value judgments about which of the works of the 700 really matter and which do
not, and her confidence in doing so, her ability to say this one matters and
these don’t, comes I’m arguing from her work as a contemporary art critic
rather than as a historian. In describing the parameters of her
study, Krauss notes “while the catalogue of Smith’s sculpture, which follows
this essay contains nearly 700 works, I have dealt explicitly with only about 40. This is because I believe that the
quality of Smith’s work derives from a particular attitude he had toward
sculpture, an attitude which is fully embodied in the masterpieces of his career.” Note the self-assurance of Krauss’
critical voice in this passage, the certainty with which she adjudicates
and separates the 40 masterpieces of Smith’s sculptural output
from the remainder of his career. And, by the way, Cubi XXVIII would be
one of those masterpieces for Krauss, construction is not and none of the
posthumous works are among the 40. For Krauss Smith’s best sculptures
exemplify how “certain objects or occurrences detach themselves from their
historical background and strike the scholar with their overwhelming importance.” So it’s literally as though the object in
its importance as an object, as a perceptual and visual experience of the
viewer, in this case the scholar, the object detaches itself from history. It breaks off from its historical
surround and becomes this instantaneous and almost overwhelming visual
and phenomenological experience that the scholar has to try to explain. With such statements, we
see art history moving away from comprehensive cataloguing towards
critical accounts of selected artworks, away from the 700 toward ever
closer readings of the 40. In Krauss’ writing, as in that of
other leading figures in the field, the present tense encounter between object and
scholar increasingly came to take precedence over the brute chronological succession of art
works and the monographic logic of biography, and one of the ways in which
this was most manifest was that later Krauss’ essay was
published itself as a book called “Terminal Ironworks, the
Sculpture of David Smith.” That was one book that she
published, her first book, and then the Catalogue Raisonne was published
separately as a book called “The Sculpture of David Smith, a Catalogue Raisonne.” So we could see art criticism and
art history sort of breaking apart and the Catalogue Raisonne of older version of
what the task of art history would be published as its own entity and “Terminal Ironworks” an
art critical version of art history, again, standing on its own as a book from MIT Press. With Krauss’ dissertation essay on David
Smith, we see art history becoming criticism, and we see art history becoming contemporary. As the dissertations I now advise
attest, artists no longer need to be dead or even very old to be the subject
of intensive scholarly analysis. Today, dissertations are routinely written
on artists who are in mid to late career, on recent museum exhibitions and biennials, and on current critical debates
within the art world. Tenured and tenure track jobs are posted
for historians of contemporary art, and endowed chairs have been
established in the field. In the United States at least, contemporary
art has emerged not only as a viable field of art historical study, but
as by far the most popular. An article by New York Times
critic Holland Cotter, reported in 2011 that “an
overwhelming number of applicants to art history graduate programs now declare
contemporary art their field of choice. This is Holland Cotter speaking, “Eighty
percent was the figure I heard repeatedly by unofficially in conversation during the
annual College Art Association conference this winter. The College Art Association, which is
the professional conference for artists and art historians, where people go
to give papers and interview for jobs. One source for that figure, 80 percent,
may well have been Patricia Mainardi, a scholar of 19th century European art
who convened a panel called The Crisis in Art History at the 2011 CAA conference. In her opening remarks, Mainardi lamented the
preponderance of art history doctoral students, 8 out of every 10, specializing
in contemporary art. Maybe we should drop the word history from
art history, she proposed a bit caustically to a ballroom full of art historians. Consider the following anecdote as further
evidence of the rise of what I call now-ism, N, O, W, hyphen I, S, M, the rise
of now-ism within art history. In 2009, I offered a gradual seminar at the
University of Southern California that sought to historicize the idea of contemporary art. At the first meeting of the course, I was taken
aback when a PhD student expressed the hope that we would not have to endure that
long slog through the 90s before arriving at the current decade of art and criticism. Prior to that semester, I had rarely
taught a seminar that reached the 1990s, much less slogged through
them to arrive triumphantly at the millennium on the other side. The students in this class understood
the designation contemporary differently than I had expected. Rather than referring to art since 1945,
art since 1960, or even art since 1970, contemporary meant to them the work of artists
exhibiting today and in the immediate past. Banksy, Matthew Barney, Sophie Calle, Patty
Chang, Sam Durant, Nikki S. Lee, Glenn Ligon, and Cathy Opie were some of the arts on whom
students in the seminar had already written or declared their intention of
doing so in upcoming projects. In one or 2 cases, the students were nearly the
same age as the artist they wished to study. The history they proposed to chart neatly
coincided with the time of their own lives, and anyone, well, I will just speak from
experience having taught undergraduates at USC for 15 years and I’m about to start
teaching Stanford undergraduates, I can attest to the challenge of getting young
people sometimes to think back before the time of their own lives, to think about history
as a vivid and compelling and urgent matter. Again, this is a generalization, but
just one based on years in the classroom. And also thinking about my own inability as
a college student sometimes to think before and beyond the experiences of my own life. I think that’s partially what college does, is
forces you out of imaging that your own life or your own historical moment is
definitive, for everyone and everything. But as more and more historians, art
historians are writing about living artists, the importance of history and of the historical
past and of moments before we were alive or the artists whom we are writing were alive, the importance of history,
I think, becomes questioned. In response to this emphasis on the present,
I pose to the students in the class a series of questions at once straight
forward and admittedly aggressive. Why, I ask them, are you studying
art history if what you really want to do is write about the contemporary moment. Where are the archives for your
research on contemporary art? In the files of a commercial gallery,
in a draw in the artist’s studio, in a theoretical paradigm, in a series
of interviews that you intend to conduct with the artist, or in the testimony
of the works of art themselves? What if anything distinguishes your practice
as a historian of contemporary art from that of an art critic, and this goes back to Krauss
and her bringing of criticism into art history. And finally, how does the history of art
matter to the work you plan to write about and to the scholarly contribution
you hope to make? One student, and this was not the 90s
slogger, but another student in the class, effectively redirected these questions to me. During her admissions interview,
the previous year she recalled, faculty had emphasized the close association
of the doctoral program in art history with contemporary art museums, curators,
and artists as well as its location in an international center of early
21st century art, namely Los Angeles. Since the contemporary had been used as a device
to attract graduate students to the program, she reasoned, perhaps it was the
professor rather than those very students, who should define and defend the relation
between contemporary art and art history. So she was basically asking why are you putting
these questions to us when we’ve been promised that this program will enjoy such close
ties to the contemporary art world and to what’s going on right now. So in effect, you’re promising
us that we’re going to be contemporary by studying art history. And in retrospect I realize that she was right. If graduate students and emerging scholars now
take contemporary art for granted as an area of specialization, it is because the
discipline of art history invites them to do so. When I started graduate school in 1988,
no such invitation was forthcoming. It was understood that modernists, like everyone
else in the program, medievalists, classicists, early modernists, Americanists, Asianists, worked on historical artists’
issues and objects. It might have been conceivable for a modernist
to study the early work of a living artist who had reached a certain golden age. In that case, however, the work at
issue would have been old enough for sufficient historical distance, say
about 40 years, to have been achieved. None of these ground rules were
spoken aloud nor did they need to be. At the time there were no
professional societies for historians of contemporary art nor were there tenure track
jobs in the field to which one might aspire. Had someone proposed the practice of
something called contemporary art history, I could only have understood it as an oxymoron. Somewhere along the line sometime perhaps
in the long 1990s, things changed. The discipline of art history
embraced the work of living artists. “What was contemporary art,” this book,
is an attempt to reckon with that shift, but it is also an effort to
grapple with the broader dialogue between contemporary art
and the historical past. In doing so, it draws on the semantic fact that
contemporary has not always signified a quality of being up to date, current, or
extremely recent, the way we tend to think of contemporary now as the most recent and
current of art forms and that which comes after the period coming after the modern. Often contemporary art nowadays is periodized
as beginning say in 1989 with the rise of the Internet, the end of communism, certain kinds of interactive
technologies and the rise of globalization. But I’m interested in a different
idea of the contemporary. An older idea, the very first
definition of the word, in the Oxford English Dictionary,
for example, is as follows. Contemporary is defined as belonging to
the same time, age, or period; living, existing or occurring together in time. So, it is a word that conveys
co-existence rather than newness. According to the entry in the OED, the variant
co-temporary was in usage during the 17th and 18th centuries and became so popular
as to almost expel contemporary from use. Although the preference for
co-temporary faded relatively quickly, this antiquated synonym is a useful
reminder that contemporary is at its core a relational condition. It takes two in other words to be contemporary. Consider in this context the
title of a book published in 1907, Randall Davies’ “English Society of the 18th
Century in Contemporary Art,” which focuses on art that portrays British society
in the 1700s, not on art contemporary to Davies’ own moment of
writing, which was 1907, or on works that conveyed any particularly
modern quality or spirit of innovation. Society for Davies meant the elites
of Society, of British aristocracy, as represented for example by a
watercolor drawing of Queen Charlotte and the Princess Royale, a mesotante [phonetic]
after a painted portrait of Mary Somerset, Duchess of Ormond, or a cut paper silhouette
of a patrician family in their drawing room. And I’m showing you some of the works
that Davies studies in English society of the 18th century and contemporary art. So obviously contemporary art is contemporary
to the 18th century not to Davies’ own moment. For Davies and his contemporaries in 1907,
modern was a property of work that was original, progressive, and forward looking, of art that
was not so much of its time as ahead of it. Contemporary by contrast
described a neutral condition of temporal co-existence
between 2 or more entities. While a portrait of the Duchess
or Ormond attended by an African child servant was
contemporary to 18th century British society, few in 1907 would have called it modern in the
sense of being progressive or forward looking. Even here, however, the matter of what constitutes contemporary art does
not necessarily remain straight forward. The 18th century silhouette by
Thenard [phonetic] published by Davies in 1907 cannot help but look contemporary to
viewers in 2012, who share a prior knowledge of the work of the living
American artist, Kara Walker. I’m showing you a work by Kara
Walker from 2000 on the right. In pieces such as “Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We
Pressed On),” Walker draws upon a history of cut paper silhouettes extending
back to the late 17th century, even as she introduces bodies, gestures, and
terrors never before visible in that history. For all the fierceness of Walker’s reckoning
with the historical past, her art can do nothing to change the social conditions and
inequities that shaped 18th century society, whether British or American, whether we
spell society with a lowercase or capital S. But Walker can change our retrospective
view of those conditions such that for example the drawing room formality of
the 18th century scene on the left comes to seem rigid and compulsory, a world of
enforced protocols and exacting regulations to which each figure, even
the family dog, must submit. Here’s the dog. Seen through Walker’s Insurrection, that
is looking at the 18th century silhouette through the lens of our contemporary
work, the Kara Walker, Thenard’s rendering of aristocratic privilege begins to unravel. It is as though Walker’s insurgent
figures may breach the boundaries of Thenard’s sedate society as thought the black
and blue history of servants and slaves might at any moment overtake the black and white
patrician family in its drawing room. Walker’s art operates according
to a dialectical model of history in which the past is no more settled or
secure than the present, and it’s this model, which is very difficult to grab hold of precise
because it is dialectical and seized history as itself something in motion and something
that is still to be reckoned with and contested, but it’s this model of history of the
present moment of still working out the past and the past as being reviewed
through the present that I try to take on board in “What Was Contemporary Art.” The temporal existence of an art work
is not bound by its moment of production or by the life or death of its creator. As it persists over time, the art work, say in
this case the Thenard, may become newly relevant to later works and social historical contexts. For the art historian, Thomas Crow,
art is distinguished by its status as an expressive object “from
the past that arrives in our midst like a traveler through time.” Building on this line of argument,
I propose that the category of contemporary art might include not only
newly produced works by living artists but also those time travelers
that arrive in our midst from earlier moments and historical context. And now very briefly I’m going
to tell you how I do this by just sketching the chapters of the book. To make this argument, each chapter in
the book opens with a specific episode in the production display criticism or
historical study of then current art, so the first chapter is about the year 1927. In each case, I try to reconstruct the logic
and retrieve the vividness of these episodes, when they were contemporary, when they were now. By retrieving an acronistic [phonetic]
moment and apparently obsolete conceptions of contemporary art, I hope to repurposed them
as counterweights to early 21st century now-ism. These episodes are first a course taught
by Alfred Barr at Wellesley College in 1927 that is thought to have been the first college
class to include then current art, architecture, theatre, film, and graphic
design on the syllabus. From avant-garde painting in Europe to
industrial architecture and automobiles in the United States, from Russian
experimental cinema such as Vertov’s “Man with the Movie Camera” that you’re
seeing referenced in a cover of a magazine called Sovetskoe Kino or Soviet
cinema, the cover designed by Varvara Stepanova, who was the managing editor of the
magazine, that is some of the kind of work that Barr was showing his students at
Wellesley in 1927 to current issues of magazines such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. The course took the art in culture of its own
moment as both subject matter and inspiration. And in a way Barr’s 1927 course of
Wellesley College became the inspiration for what was contemporary
art because of the ways in which he was making vivid the
culture of the student’s own moment. He actually designated all the
students in the class as faculty because he said they were all going
to teach each other as well as himself about what was going on at that very moment. So this first chapter examines the iconoclastic
pedagogy and experimental sense modernity that sharped Barr’s unprecedented class. The second chapter charts a highly selective
path through the curatorial program, I’m sorry chapter 3, through the curatorial
program of MoMA under Barr’s directorship, and it looks in particular detail at
the ways in which several exhibitions of premodern art including Persian Frescos
[phonetic], prehistoric rock pictures of Europe and Africa, which I’m showing you
in installation shot from here, and Italian masters were positioned in
relation to early 20th century art at the time. So what you’re looking at, this is a show
that was at the Museum of Modern Art, and what you’re seeing are full-scale
painted, oops, what you were seeing, here’s our contemporary technology intervening, but in a moment it will return,
or shall I do it? There we go. These are works in a sense of contemporary art. They were made by living artists who went on
expedition with archeologists throughout Africa and Europe, and on site they made drawings that
were the basis for these water color renderings that are to the scale of the
actual prehistoric cave paintings. So when you went into MoMA, you were
meant to think that you were seeing, you were meant to experience the prehistoric
art as it existed in prehistory but also as a modern rediscovery of the prehistoric
past, and what you were looking at was works by artists who were contemporary even though
they were unnamed as individual artists, but the copiest, who made these facsimiles
contemporary to Matisse and Maison [phonetic] and the other artists who
were on display at MoMA. And then finally the last chapter considers
the surprisingly bitter controversy sparked by the decision of the Institute of
Modern Art, you’ll remember in Boston, who housed among many other
exhibits the Plastics Exhibition, the decision of the Institute
of Modern Art to change its name to the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1948. The change was necessary according
to the institute because the idea of modern art had collapsed into a
narrow version of European modernism, a culture of bewilderment,
as its manifesto said. These are just some of the clippings of the
articles from the time this caused something of a public and national
controversy over the renunciation of modern in favor of the contemporary. And so the last chapter looks
at that controversy and tries to reconstruct the symbolic and political stakes
of the modern contemporary divide at midcentury. Having sketched the book’s chapters, I
want to conclude now by reading something from its Afterward, which is called , “Not Now.” [ Background Noise ] And this is the conclusion. It takes about a year for
a University Press book to appear once the final manuscript
has been submitted by the author. Given this, when writing what was contemporary
art, I knew that it would be at least 12 months out of date by the time it was published. Rather than regretting this delay, I have come
to view it as a metaphor for the necessity of falling behind the times, for the importance
of losing step with the ever advancing march and marketing of contemporary art. By one recent accounting, there are
now more than 100 biannual exhibitions of contemporary art across the globe,
from Sao Paulo to Seoul to Sharjah with one almost every 10 days on average. The art market has never
been more genuinely global or more massively capitalized than it is today. In researching this book, I attended versions
of the Venice Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, the Athens Biennial, Documenta, and Art Basel
Miami as well as various satellite events and expositions including the
2007 Art Now Fair in Miami Beach, which I’m showing you banners from. And by the way, those biennials that I
just mentioned, the ones that I went to, that’s hardly a patch on the itinerary say of
contemporary art curators, museum directors, collectors, who go to many, many more of
these hundred biennials a year then I did. It soon became clear to me that
trying to keep up with the pace of the contemporary art world
was a practical impossibility, not least because I lacked the
financial resources to do so. Archival research, critical thinking,
the crafting of book length projects, these tasks do not lend themselves
to the tempo or logic of art now. In writing contemporary art history, it
may therefore be necessary paradoxically to lag behind the time of
the contemporary art world, behind the latest biennial opening,
artist project, or blog posting. In 2012, that is right now, the
culture of contemporary art seems to be burning more intensely than
ever, but the glare of now-ism, of the current international art fair,
efflux posting hot young artists, and auction host record, can be fairly blinding. The spectacular immediacy of the contemporary
art world threatens to overwhelm our ability to think critically about the relation
of the current moment to the past. “All art has been contemporary,” reads
Maurizio Nannucci’s 2010 neon sculpture at the Boston Museum of Fine Arthritis. To make that glowing text into more
than a truism, we need to recognize that all historical art was once current and that all contemporary
art will soon be historical. We also need to grapple with
how the art of the past informs and reconfigures the current moment. We need, that is to say, to grapple not only
with the fast moving art world of our own time but also with the living history of
once contemporary artists and art works, with a past that should not
be permitted to pass away. Thank you very much. [ Applause ] Yes, I’m very happy, we have
time, I believe, for questions. I always say the Q and A is my favorite part
of any lecture because it’s where I learn. I know what I said, but I don’t know
what you heard, so now I learn something about what you actually, what you heard,
which can be, as any professor can tell you, 2 very different things if
you talk to your students. Yes?>>[inaudible] .>>Sure.>>[inaudible] I was thinking when
you were talking about [inaudible]. [ Inaudible question ] And all of that, and it really
changed the direction of [inaudible], and I was just thinking [inaudible]
contemporary [inaudible] history in [inaudible] more traditionally
[inaudible] contemporary or [inaudible] probably also
looking at contemporary art.>>Yes. And that’s an excellent point, and
it goes straight to the heart of the ambition of this project, which is actually to say
not only that all art was once contemporary but that all art history is also
being written in a contemporary moment and that what’s the conditions
of the contemporary culture in which history is being written
shape how that history unfolds as does the historical past
that’s actually being studied. So I don’t want to say that it’s completely,
that contemporary moment determines history but that we have to understand the writing
of history including of art history as a kind of dialectic between the object of study,
the historical moment under scrutiny, and the moment of the scholar’s own practice. And I think that, and contemporary art
is really useful to do this because many, or what was contemporary art at the
moment the historian is writing, because although some art historians have
been very antipathetic to their own moment in contemporary art, many
others, as you mentioned, have also actually written art criticism as a
side light to their art history or collected or were friends with contemporary artists
or certainly were open to the energy, to the visual culture of the
contemporary art of their times. And I think that it’s very exciting
when we think about art history through this double lens, through the lens of
the moment that the art history is looking at but also the moment of the
art historian’s own light. [ Background Noise ] Yes?>>I was wondering if you could say a bit
about the relationship between the art market for contemporary art and the
subject that you’re talking about.>>Yeah.>>It’s natural to think that there
is a parallel, which we the students in your graduate seminar, you know, wanting
to get through the 90s as soon as possible, and the sort of explosion of the
contemporary art market in recent years.>>Yeah, and I think that that’s absolutely true
and one of the things that’s happened, I mean, and part of the reason I mentioned the
art, the record, auction, house records, is that I think that the art world is
bigger, I mean the global art world. There are more museums for
example of contemporary art than there have ever been before and even the
whole invention of something called the Museum of Contemporary Art coming after, or
the Institute of Contemporary Art, and one of the things I didn’t mention was the
reason why they called themselves an institute of contemporary art was because they were
going to be a place for research and study and exhibition rather than an acquisition,
so the idea was that if you were going to remain truly contemporary, you would
never acquire works of art because as soon as you acquired works of art those
works would date you at some point and you couldn’t really be fleet footedly up
to date if you were being as it were anchored or dragged down by these works from the past. But I think the impact of there are more
art magazines, there are more art fairs, and there’s simply a culture of contemporary art that I think is much more,
engages many more people. And the market is larger,
so there’s more opportunity to work in the contemporary art field. You know, sort of manning those boots at the
art fairs or working in those galleries or going into consulting jobs or curatorial
jobs or academic jobs. And I do feel that the market has rendered
contemporary art more palpable and kind of more maybe somewhat more immediate than it
was for example for Barrs’ Wellesley students. I talk about how the art shows that he and the
students put up on campus were widely reviled by the Wellesley student body as what they
called queer and incomprehensible art, so I don’t think in 1927
that an educated young woman or man for that matter would have necessarily
been expected to have a knowledge or interest in contemporary art, in the contemporary art of
their own moment whereas it seems to me today that part of the idea of being an educated
young person is having some knowledge of contemporary culture and including
one’s own contemporary moment. I would also say that I think
that it’s not only in art history that things have become more contemporary
but also in the rise of a field like cultural studies, which is so much
about contemporary popular culture, the interest in noneconomical or
countereconomical works, I think, so some that were popular works so
something like the way in which in literary, in English departments you might
study the romance novel nowadays. I think that we’ve seen like a turn toward the
contemporary, kind of a cross, the humanities, and I think that the art market,
the growth of the art market sort of amplifies what was already happening
you know kind of within art history, that is things becoming more current
and then becoming even more publicized and maybe also more attractive once
people see how vibrant the market and how global the market is. But I don’t think this is something
only this turn toward the contemporary or this tendency toward now-ism
I do think is related to other developments besides the market,
intellectual developments [inaudible]. Yes in the back?>>When you were talking earlier about
the avant-garde being ahead of the curve in relationship [inaudible] and these days
when there’s a commodification of the now, is there a possibility for
it to be an avant-garde. Do avant-garde’s easily get
commodified [inaudible]?>>Well I think there’s an open question as to whether the contemporary art world is
operating according to a model of avant-garde or what model of the avant-garde it’s operating
with, so this notion that the artist is going to be out front or is going to be a
sort of advance garde, and explorer, or you know is going to sort of bravely
risk or go where art has not gone before. That’s one model of the avant-garde. I’m not sure that that obtains in
the same way, and certainly in terms of the historical avant-gardes, which
had political and social ambitions, like the constructivists for example and their
idea of moving art into life and their sort of social commitments, I’m not sure that most contemporary artists today are
fashioning themselves as a political avant-garde or an avant-garde that’s going to bring
about social and political transformation. I guess let me put it another way, I’m
not sure that commodification is seen as the enemy by many artists today. I think that I was trained in a kind of
Frankfort school modernist etiology that said that what art wants to do is
out distance commodification, and it wants to trouble the status
quo and it wants to be something other than mass culture and entertainment. I’m not sure that those models about art as
critical of the culture or art as separable from entertainment or fashion or
the so-called culture industry, I’m not sure that those are the most operable
models for artists that are emerging today. So I think yes it’s true that the
avant-garde has always been commodified, but I don’t know that young artists who
might fashion themselves avant-garde see that as a problem today, so I don’t
know if that answers your question.>>Yeah that makes sense.>>Your question, Michael?>>I was wondering how writing this book,
obviously it’s been a long time coming, and during that gestation
period you worked on Weegee.>>Um hum.>>[inaudible] how has thinking about
contemporary art and its relation to art history affected your own
[inaudible] practice and such relation to those exhibitions you did, do you think of Warhol differently now
or Weegee differently now?>>Well in both cases, Warhol, the 10
Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, which was the series that Warhol’s Jews
focused on, which is a series from 1980, that was a series that was critically
reviled at the time that it premiered. Although it was very popular, it sold very
well, but it was critically largely dismissed, and Weegee’s work, especially his LA work,
was never intended to be understood as art with a capital A, and even those who
admire Weegee’s sort of film noir and New York work often have trouble with
his LA, his later work and the distortion, which was the work that was shown in Naked
Hollywood, so one thing I guess is to say is that I have always been drawn to what doesn’t
count as contemporary art, so what else exists in the culture that’s kind of adjacent to or the
underside of what’s considered important art. So Warhol nowadays nobody has
a problem with the portraits, or I don’t know that they
haven’t been, they’re not reviled, the show wasn’t when the works were shown
in 2005, but in 1980 Warhol was seen as kind of somewhat marginal to what was going on, which is hard to imagine now
given his posthumous influence. Part of the impulse behind this
book was to say if we think about, I’m thinking now let’s say the show
upstairs, the Aboriginal Art Show, well that is contemporary art, but so
often contemporary art is identified as only what a certain international art market
or art world is writing about or looking at or acquiring, and we don’t see let’s say other
kinds of art that are being produced right now or craft or art being produced outside of major
cities or not in dialogue with what’s happening in Artforum Magazine, we don’t really grant
those the quality of being fully contemporary. It’s as though somehow Matthew Barney or
whomever you might choose is more contemporary than artists who don’t get written about or
purchased or seen at art fairs or biennials to the same extent, and part of what I
wanted to do in the book was to say look, there’s always been all of these multiple
art worlds, these multiple contemporaries, and if we think about contemporary
art as always being, as a category where art is alive alongside other
works of art and artists and viewers are alive in a certain moment that they share with others
that that could help us to see things as part of the history of art that haven’t
been granted that value in the past. And I’ll just say one last thing about that. You know, one of the real reservations that I
had was well what does it mean to put Weegee, these are photographs basically by a tabloid
photographer by a crime photographer, who really made his name as a photo journalist
and then came out to LA to kind of try to become a celebrity and that
didn’t work out so well for him, but one of the issues I had was thinking
about what does it mean to put these works, these photographs, which weren’t intended
to be art in the museum of contemporary art. So now to place what wasn’t art in its
own historical moment in conversation and one of the thing, one of the ways in which
I explained that to myself was that it turned out that Cindy Sherman and Ed Ruscha and Laurie
Simmons and Carroll Dunham were all collectors of late Weegee, who leant works to the show, and in Cindy Sherman’s case,
she leant a Marilyn distortion. And Weegee becomes [inaudible] or the
dialogue between Sherman’s work on femininity and celebrity and Weegee’s work I thought
was a really interesting one, and so Weegee, we could argue that he had
an impact on contemporary art or that nowadays contemporary art is so involved
with the culture of celebrity and photography and journalism that Weegee has something to
say to today’s contemporary moment in art that he didn’t have to say in the late
40s or early 50s, and that’s also part of what I’m trying to do in this book is to say, art is not only intended for
its own contemporary moment. It can be revived in a later moment and become
as it were newly relevant, newly contemporary, which is sort of what that brought the Kara
Walker and the Thenardins [phonetic] to sort of say we don’t know what the future is going
to hold in terms of artistic production, and the future is going to
change how we will see the past, and actually the future will help us
rediscover things, let’s say like Weegee or like late Warhol, that we thought
were not part of the history of art. Does that make sense?>>It’s a great way to end.>>Okay. [ Applause ]

11 thoughts on ““What Was Contemporary Art?: An Introduction”

  1. this is a great speaker – but I cannot believe that no-one dealt with the microphone issue through the whole lecture – my ears hurt – the guy who does the intro obviously did the sound check – but no one stopped to help the guest – what an insult to dr, meyer.

  2. It might be a good thing for the "Art Market" to collapse? Perhaps that will bring Art closer to "Art For Arts Sake"? In "the end", Art trumps capitalism. When all the money is gone I'll still paint or draw a picture 🙂

  3. Addressing "contemporary" Art. As a visual Art student and prospector my entire life span thus far; First of all Art does not recognize time, in real time :-)……. twenty million years is not really a long time for Art. contemporary in the seance of the work its self excluding the time period is one thing and contemporary in the seance of what or who is hot on the capitalist Art market is another thing. I mean in real time 100 years ago in Art is not even a factor or issue in this area

  4. Contemporary art is the art of today, produced by artists who are living in the twenty-first century. Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflects the issues relevant to ourselves, and the world around us. Today's artists work in a global environment that is culturally diverse, technologically advance and multifaceted. Their are many online art galleries to know more about contemporary art such as Indian Art Ideas, Sanchit Art and many more.

  5. I think the essence of this lecture is really just about Professor Meyer trying to bring out his two definitions of what "contemporary arts" can refer to. But he was not even whispering about the Plexiglass exhibition in terms of its sensitive historical significance of the event happening in 1939 to bring out the sense of the "seven" way of being eternal – which is really an old metaphysical question rather divisive in nature because there are two discourses concerned – the assorted building blocks and the building blocks represented in their totality by a diamond, or more commonly, a pattern of diamonds – in the two methods of assemblage. The diamond is understood to represent the everlasting nature with higher level of convergence of the building blocks of identical shape. Nor did the professor explain about the futuristic outlook of the works with wood and plaster pieces being connected by a wire to be formed into a loop of connectivity, and another artwork sporting one four-sided square slab garnished with another placed into a diamond-shaped position. These are pretty obvious messages to send out. However, I think the lecturer really brings out the essence of his main contention in the piece-de-resistance, namely his two perceptive definitions of the arts being "contemporary." His sensitivity begins to shine through with his elaborate remarks on an 18th century English literary classic on the British society to illustrate the more contemporaneous nature, the more historically significant, in order to highlight the far-reaching ramifications of the anglophonic developments in the British Isles radiating to project an enduring cultural endeavour that permeates many artworks that he wanted to emphasise in terms of withstanding, with greater fortitude and resilience, the painful season during the cyclical operation of Time. And thus he also explains how the past, present and future could sometimes be interwoven and crisscross the textual or iconographic aspect of an artwork from critical theory's point of view that when the artwork is studied more closely, one could discover the past as much as the present or the future.

  6. Renzo

    Let me begin by telling you that when my brother was just starting school, he rebelled at the rules of spelling.
    Why did words have to be spelled in a particular way?
    Why couldn't he spell them as he wanted to spell them?
    He resented the rules and he resisted the authority of those who made them !
    Keep this in mind.

    I think that Conceptual art comes from people who could not and would not do the difficult work required to become a 'traditional' artist.
    Can't master the necessary skills ?
    Can't understand how to use color to create mood?
    Can't master composition?
    Can't draw or understand human anatomy?
    Can't figure out how to express your feelings with image?
    Can’t be bothered ?

    Well then, belittle the importance of those skills and debase the notion that they are a prerequisite to creating art.
    Instead, create an art genre that you CAN do.
    A new genre.
    And let's call it Conceptual art.
    Conceptual artists claim that IDEAS and CONCEPTS are the main feature of their art.
    They can slap anything together and call it ''conceptual art'' confident that viewers will find SOMETHING to think about it no matter how banal or trivial the artist's concept!

    There is no way conceptual art pieces can be judged.
    The promoters of this art have attacked the motives and credibility of authorities and critics who might disparage the work.
    They have rejected museums and galleries as defining authorities.
    They reject the idea that art can be judged or criticized .
    All of this results in a decline in standards.
    And when you jettison standards, quality suffers.

    There really IS such a thing as BAD art !

    We know this only because we have standards and criteria by which such things can be evaluated.
    It seems that conceptual art comes down to a basic idea:
    No one has the right or authority to make any judgements about art !
    Art is anything you can get away with !

    A whole new language has been created to give the work an air of legitimacy and gravitas.
    Conceptual art is 'sold' to the unwary public with ….."ArtSpeak".

    ArtSpeak is a unique assemblage of English words and phrases that the International Art world uses but which are devoid of meaning!
    Have you ever found yourself confronted by an art gallery’s description of an exhibition which seems completely indecipherable?
    Or an artist’s statement about their work which left you more confused than enlightened?
    You’re not alone.

    Here are examples of ArtSpeak:

    ''..she manipulates architectural structures in order to deconstruct socially defined spaces and their uses and test novel and playful possibilities."

    Or '

    'Works that probe the dialectic between innovations that seem to have been forgotten, the ruinous present state of projects once created amid great euphoria, and the present as an era of transitions and new beginnings.''


    ''The exhibition reactivates his career-long investigation into the social mutations of desire and repression. But his earlier concerns with repression production–in the adolescent or in the family as a whole–give way to the vertiginous retrieval and wayward reinvention of mythical community and sub-cultural traditions.''

    This language is meant to convince me that there is real substance to this drivel which is being passed off as 'art'.
    But I don't buy it.

    Plenty of other people DO buy it.
    Not because they love the work.
    They are laying out enormous sums in the belief that their investment will bring them high returns in the future.

    One Jeff Koons conceptual piece is three basketballs suspended in a fish tank.

    Here is Koons' own ArtSpeak explanation of his floating basketball 'concept' verbatim:

    “ This is an ultimate state of being.
    I wanted to play with people’s desires.
    They desire this equilibrium.
    They desire pre-birth.
    I was giving a definition of life and death.
    This is the eternal.
    This is what life is like, also, after death.
    Aspects of the eternal”

    Rather lofty goals for 3 basketballs suspended in a fish tank!!

    It sold for $350,000.
    I wonder what it would have fetched without Koons' name attached to it.
    Or take the case of Martin Creed's ball of crumpled white paper.
    He made almost 700 of them!

    Martin Creed, when asked during an interview how he would respond to those who say the crumpled ball isn’t art said :
    “ I wouldn’t call this art either. Who says, anyway, what’s good and what’s bad?”

    ''When confronted with conceptual art, we shouldn’t worry whether it’s art or not because no one really knows what art is.''

    Is this what art has come to??

    Something radical has happened to the art scene in the past 50 years.
    Cubism slid into non-representational art….what is often called Abstract.
    Abstract or non-representational art is a legitimate and often profound genre.

    But to many people, it appeared as if this new style had no structure, principles or standards of evaluation.
    It’s markings seemed random and arbitrary.
    Something that anyone could do.

    Any composition of blotches or scribbles was “Abstract Art”.
    This was the slippery slope that led to the abandonment of standards in art.
    Art is what I say it is….and lots of people jumped on the art bandwagon.
    Anyone can be an artist.
    Anyone can mount a show.
    And who is to say if it has value?

    A tacit agreement forms among critics, galleries, publications and auction houses to promote and celebrate certain artists and styles.
    Objects with no artistic merit are touted and praised .
    Their value increases with every magazine article, every exhibition in a prestigious gallery.

    And when they come up for auction, sometimes the auction houses will lend vast sums to a bidder so that it appears as if the work of the particular artist is increasing in value.

    The upward spiral begins and fortunes are made.
    And many are reluctant to declare that the Emperor is, in fact, naked lest they appear boorish unsophisticated Philistines !
    This is what dominates the art market today.

    The love of money is the root of all evil.
    It has corrupted politics.
    It has corrupted sport.
    It has corrupted healthcare.
    It has corrupted religion.
    And now it has corrupted art.

    But, there is reason to hope.

    As much of the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans was kept alive through the Middle Ages in small pockets of learning and culture, ateliers have sprung up around the world that are devoted to preserving and handing down the traditional visual arts: drawing, painting and sculpting to each new generation.

    And when this craze for conceptual art has burned itself out and when visual art is no longer looked on as mere decoration and when schools that have dissolved their art programs want to reestablish them again, the world will find these skills preserved through the atelier movement.

  7. How dry, how over analyzed — as usual. One thing and one thing only is needed to analyze art: is it cool to look at? In other words does it make you feel good? I always go back to Picasso's comment "I feel sorry for critics because they're always wrong." In a hundred years no one will give a shit because everyone will be fighting over water and food. Survival.

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