Newsweek calls him “exhilarating and deeply engaging.” Time Out New York calls him “smart, provocative, and a great writer.” Critic Peter Schjeldahl, meanwhile, simply calls him “My hero.” There’s no one in the art world quite like Dave Hickey—and a new book of his writing is an event.
25 Women will not disappoint. The book collects Hickey’s best and most important writing about female artists from the past twenty years. But this is far more than a compilation: Hickey has revised each essay, bringing them up to date and drawing out common themes. Written in Hickey’s trademark style—accessible, witty, and powerfully illuminating—25 Women analyzes the work of Joan Mitchell, Bridget Riley, Fiona Rae, Lynda Benglis, Karen Carson, and many others. Hickey discusses their work as work, bringing politics and gender into the discussion only where it seems warranted by the art itself. The resulting book is not only a deep engagement with some of the most influential and innovative contemporary artists, but also a reflection on the life and role of the critic: the decisions, judgments, politics, and ethics that critics negotiate throughout their careers in the art world.
Always engaging, often controversial, and never dull, Dave Hickey is a writer who gets people excited—and talking—about art. 25 Women will thrill his many fans, and make him plenty of new ones.
Art Criticism and Education
Theodore F. Wolff and George Geahigan University of Illinois Press, 1997 Library of Congress N7476.W63 1997 | Dewey Decimal 701.18
Art Criticism and Education completes the Disciplines in Art Education
series. In the first section, Theodore Wolff deals with the role of the
art critic in education. He gives a practical overview of how the principles
and practices of art criticism can be applied to the teaching of art (k-12).
In the second, George Geahigan begins with an historical overview of art
criticism in education literature and provides a conceptualized approach
to critical inquiry, asserting that the most effective form of that inquiry
is the pursuit of meaning in works of art. A rare combination of the practical
and theoretical, Art Criticism and Education will be an invaluable
aid to anyone involved in art education. A volume in the series Disciplines in Art Education: Contexts of Understanding, edited by Ralph Smith Supported by the Getty Foundation
"Art history after modernism" does not only mean that art looks different today; it also means that our discourse on art has taken a different direction, if it is safe to say it has taken a direction at all.
So begins Hans Belting's brilliant, iconoclastic reconsideration of art and art history at the end of the millennium, which builds upon his earlier and highly successful volume, The End of the History of Art?. "Known for his striking and original theories about the nature of art," according to the Economist, Belting here examines how art is made, viewed, and interpreted today. Arguing that contemporary art has burst out of the frame that art history had built for it, Belting calls for an entirely new approach to thinking and writing about art. He moves effortlessly between contemporary issues—the rise of global and minority art and its consequences for Western art history, installation and video art, and the troubled institution of the art museum—and questions central to art history's definition of itself, such as the distinction between high and low culture, art criticism versus art history, and the invention of modernism in art history. Forty-eight black and white images illustrate the text, perfectly reflecting the state of contemporary art.
With Art History after Modernism, Belting retains his place as one of the most original thinkers working in the visual arts today.
One of the first female artists to achieve recognition in her own time, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) became instantly popular in the 1970s when feminist art historians "discovered" her and argued vehemently for a place for her in the canon of Italian baroque painters. Featured alongside her father, Orazio Gentileschi, in a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Artemisia has continued to stir interest though her position in the canon remains precarious, in part because her sensationalized life history has overshadowed her art.
In The Artemisia Files, Mieke Bal and her coauthors look squarely at this early icon of feminist art history and the question of her status as an artist. Considering the events that shaped her life and reputation—her relationship to her father and her role as the victim in a highly publicized rape case during which she was tortured into giving evidence—the authors make the case that Artemisia's importance is due to more than her role as a poster child in the feminist attack on traditional art history; here, Artemisia emerges more fully as a highly original artist whose work is greater than the sum of the events that have traditionally defined her.
The fresh, engaging discourse in The Artemisia Files will help to both renew the reputation of this artist on the merit of her work and establish her rightful place in the history of art.
“Over the last generation Artemisia has been transformed from a talented curiosity . . . into a standard bearer of early feminist consciousness. This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the critical frame of mind underlying this transformation.”—Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator of Italian Painting, TheMetropolitanMuseumof Art
Bertolt Brecht once worried that our sympathy for the victims of a social problem can make the problem’s “beauty and attraction” invisible. In The Beauty of a Social Problem, Walter Benn Michaels explores the effort to overcome this difficulty through a study of several contemporary artist-photographers whose work speaks to questions of political economy.
Although he discusses well-known figures like Walker Evans and Jeff Wall, Michaels’s focus is on a group of younger artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Liz Deschenes, and Arthur Ou. All born after 1965, they have always lived in a world where, on the one hand, artistic ambition has been synonymous with the critique of autonomous form and intentional meaning, while, on the other, the struggle between capital and labor has essentially been won by capital. Contending that the aesthetic and political conditions are connected, Michaels argues that these artists’ new commitment to form and meaning is a way for them to depict the conditions that have taken US economic inequality from its lowest level, in 1968, to its highest level today. As Michaels demonstrates, these works of art, unimaginable without the postmodern critique of autonomy and intentionality, end up departing and dissenting from that critique in continually interesting and innovative ways.
Clement Greenberg (1909–1994), champion of abstract expressionism and modernism—of Pollock, Miró, and Matisse—has been esteemed by many as the greatest art critic of the second half of the twentieth century, and possibly the greatest art critic of all time. This volume, a lively reassessment of Greenberg’s writings, features three approaches to the man and his work: Greenberg as critic, doctrinaire, and theorist. The book also features a transcription of a public debate with Greenberg that de Duve organized at the University of Ottawa in 1988. Clement Greenberg Between the Lines will be an indispensable resource for students, scholars, and enthusiasts of modern art.
“In this compelling study, Thierry de Duve reads Greenberg against the grain of the famous critic’s critics—and sometimes against the grain of the critic himself. By reinterpreting Greenberg’s interpretations of Pollock, Duchamp, and other canonical figures, de Duve establishes new theoretical coordinates by which to understand the uneasy complexities and importance of Greenberg’s practice.” John O’Brian, editor of Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticisms
“De Duve is an expert on theoretical aesthetics and thus well suited to reassess the formalist tenets of the late American art critic's theory on art and culture. . . . De Duve's close readings of Greenberg . . . contain much of interest, and the author clearly enjoys matching wits with ‘the world's best known art critic.’” Library Journal
Distinctionand Denial challenges conventional theories of race and art by examining the role early twentieth-century art critics played in marginalizing African American artists. Mary Ann Calo dispels the myth of a unified African American artistic tradition through an engaging study of the germinal writing of Alain Locke and other significant critics of the era, who argued that African American artists were both a diverse group and a constituent element of America’s cultural center. By documenting the effects of the “Negro aesthetic” on African American artists working in the interwar years, Distinctionand Denial shows that black artistic production existed between the claims of a distinctly African American tradition and full inclusion into American modernist culture—never fully inside or outside the mainstream.
“A major contribution to the scholarship of African American artists in the inter-war period. With scrupulous research and probing analyses, Calo’s study enables scholars, students, and those interested in the Harlem Renaissance to grasp the intellectual debates, institutional support, and art world promotion that advanced an emerging cohort of African American artists.”
—Patricia Hills, Boston University
“A careful, thorough, historically grounded study that builds a new and significant argument challenging conventional histories of African American art. Sure to become indispensable to any scholarly discussion of American art or African American cultural studies.”
—Helen Langa, American University
Mary Ann Calo is Professor of Art History and Director of the Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts at Colgate University. She is author of Bernard Berenson and the Twentieth Century and editor of Critical Issues in American Art: A Book of Readings.
Even a decade after his death, Clement Greenberg remains controversial. One of the most influential art writers of the twentieth century, Greenberg propelled Abstract Expressionist painting-in particular the monumental work of Jackson Pollock-to a leading position in an international postwar art world. On radio and in print, Greenberg was the voice of "the new American painting," and a central figure in the postwar cultural history of the United States.
Caroline Jones's magisterial study widens Greenberg's fundamental tenet of "opticality"-the idea that modernist art is apprehended through "eyesight alone"-to a broader arena, examining how the critic's emphasis on the specular resonated with a society increasingly invested in positivist approaches to the world. Greenberg's modernist discourse, Jones argues, developed in relation to the rationalized procedures that gained wide currency in the United States at midcentury, in fields ranging from the sense-data protocols theorized by scientific philosophy to the development of cultural forms, such as hi-fi, that targeted specific senses, one by one. Greenberg's attempt to isolate and celebrate the visual was one manifestation of a large-scale segmentation-or bureaucratization-of the body's senses. Working through these historical developments, Jones brings Greenberg's theories into contemporary philosophical debates about agency and subjectivity.
Eyesight Alone offers artists, art historians, philosophers, and all those interested in the arts a critical history of this generative figure, bringing his work fully into dialogue with the ideas that shape contemporary critical discourse and shedding light not only on Clement Greenberg but also on the contested history of modernism itself.
Sir Frank Kermode, the British scholar, instructor, and author, was an inspired critic. Forms of Attention is based on a series of three lectures he gave on canon formation, or how we choose what art to value. The essay on Botticelli traces the artist’s sudden popularity in the nineteenth century for reasons that have more to do with poetry than painting. In the second essay, Kermode reads Hamlet from a very modern angle, offering a useful (and playful) perspective for a contemporary audience. The final essay is a defense of literary criticism as a process and conversation that, while often conflating knowledge with opinion, keeps us reading great art and working with—and for—literature.
Drawing extensively upon the poet's unpublished manuscripts—poems, journals, essays, and letters—as well as all his published works, Marjorie Perloff presents Frank O'Hara as one of the central poets of the postwar period and an important critic of the visual arts. Perloff traces the poet's development through his early years at Harvard and his interest in French Dadaism and Surrealism to his later poems that fuse literary influence with elements from Abstract Expressionist painting, atonal music, and contemporary film. This edition contains a new Introduction addressing O'Hara's homosexuality, his attitudes toward racism, and changes in poetic climate cover the past few decades.
"A groundbreaking study. [This book] is a genuine work of criticism. . . . Through Marjorie Perloff's book we see an O'Hara perhaps only his closer associates saw before: a poet fully aware of the traditions and techniques of his craft who, in a life tragically foreshortened, produced an adventurous if somewhat erratic body of American verse."—David Lenson, Chronicle of Higher Education
"Perloff is a reliable, well-informed, discreet, sensitive . . . guide. . . . She is impressive in the way she deals with O'Hara's relationship to painters and paintings, and she does give first-rate readings of four major poems."—Jonathan Cott, New York Times Book Review
In Hold It Against Me, Jennifer Doyle explores the relationship between difficulty and emotion in contemporary art, treating emotion as an artist's medium. She encourages readers to examine the ways in which works of art challenge how we experience not only the artist's feelings, but our own. Discussing performance art, painting, and photography, Doyle provides new perspectives on artists including Ron Athey, Aliza Shvarts, Thomas Eakins, James Luna, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz. Confronting the challenge of writing about difficult works of art, she shows how these artists work with feelings as a means to question our assumptions about identity, intimacy, and expression. They deploy the complexity of emotion to measure the weight of history, and to deepen our sense of where and how politics happens in contemporary art.
Doyle explores ideologies of emotion and how emotion circulates in and around art. Throughout, she gives readers welcoming points of entry into artworks that they may at first find off-putting or confrontational. Doyle offers new insight into how the discourse of controversy serves to shut down discussion about this side of contemporary art practice, and counters with a critical language that allows the reader to accept emotional intensity in order to learn from it.
The Invisible Masterpiece
Hans Belting University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress N7475.B45313 2001 | Dewey Decimal 701.18
The "invisible masterpiece" is an unattainable ideal, a work of art into which a dream of absolute art is incorporated but can never be realized. Using this metaphor borrowed from Balzac, Hans Belting explores the history of "the masterpiece" and how its status and meaning have been elevated and denigrated since the early nineteenth century. Before 1800, works of art were either imitative (portraits and landscapes) or narrative (history painting). But under the influence of Romantic modernity, the physical object—a painted canvas, for example, or a sculpture—came to be seen as visible testimony of the artist's attempt to achieve absolute or ultimate art; in short, the impossible. This revolution in interpretation coincided with the establishment of the first public art museums, in which classical and Renaissance works were presented as the "real" masterpieces, timeless art of such quality that no modern artist could possibly hope to achieve. The Mona Lisa and other celebrated paintings preoccupied artists who felt burdened by this cult of the masterpiece as it came to be institutionalized.
Belting explores and explains how twentieth-century artists, following Duchamp, struggled with their personal dreams of absolute art. It was not until the 1960s that artists, such as Warhol, finally began to reject the idea of the individual, totemic work of art and its permanent exhibition, as well as the related concept of the "masterpiece" and the outmoded art market that fed off it.
When Dave Hickey was twelve, he rode the surfer’s dream: the perfect wave. And, like so many things in life we long for, it didn’t quite turn out----he shot the pier and dashed himself against the rocks of Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, which just about killed him.
Fortunately, for Hickey and for us, he survived, and continues to battle, decades into a career as one of America’s foremost critical iconoclasts, a trusted, even cherished no-nonsense voice commenting on the all-too-often nonsensical worlds of art and culture. Perfect Wave brings together essays on a wide range of subjects from throughout Hickey’s career, displaying his usual breadth of interest and powerful insight into what makes art work, or not, and why we care. With Hickey as our guide, we travel to Disneyland and Vegas, London and Venice. We discover the genius of Karen Carpenter and Waylon Jennings, learn why Robert Mitchum matters more than Jimmy Stewart, and see how the stillness of Antonioni speaks to us today. Never slow to judge—or to surprise us in doing so—Hickey powerfully relates his wincing disappointment in the later career of his early hero Susan Sontag, and shows us the appeal to our commonality that we’ve been missing in Norman Rockwell. With each essay, the doing is as important as what’s done; the pleasure of reading Dave Hickey lies nearly as much in spending time in his company as in being surprised to find yourself agreeing with his conclusions.
Bookended by previously unpublished personal essays that offer a new glimpse into Hickey’s own life—including the aforementioned slam-bang conclusion to his youthful surfing career—Perfect Wave is not a perfect book. But it’s a damn good one, and a welcome addition to the Hickey canon.
“We got to talking”—so David Antin begins the introduction to Radical Coherency, embarking on the pursuit that has marked much of his breathless, brilliantly conversational work. For the past forty years, whether spoken under the guise of performance artist or poet, cultural explorer or literary critic, Antin’s innovative observations have helped us to better understand everything from Pop to Postmodernism.
Intimately wedded to the worlds of conceptual art and poetics, Radical Coherency collects Antin’s influential critical essays and spontaneous, performed lectures (or “talk pieces”) for the very first time, capturing one of the most distinctive perspectives in contemporary literature. The essays presented here range from the first serious assessment of Andy Warhol published in a major art journal, as well as Antin’s provocative take on Clement Greenberg’s theory of Modernism, to frontline interventions in present debates on poetics and fugitive pieces from the ’60s and ’70s that still sparkle today—and represent a gold mine for art historians of the period. From John Cage to Allan Kaprow, Mark Rothko to Ludwig Wittgenstein, Antin takes the reader on an idiosyncratic, personal journey through twentieth-century culture with his trademark antiformalist panache—one thatwill be welcomed by any fan of this consummate trailblazer.
Valuable and timely in its long historical and critical perspective on the legacy of romanticism to Victorian art and thought, The Rescue of Romanticism is the first book-length study of the close intellectual relationship between Walter Pater and John Ruskin, the two most important Victorian critics of art. Kenneth Daley explores the work and thought of both writers in context with other Victorian writers, and enlarges the issues at stake between them, connecting these issues to ongoing artistic, cultural, and political concerns of the modern world.
Professor Daley gives a more finely honed picture than ever before of romanticism’s emergence as a literary concept in Victorian England, detailing the political differences that characterize the opposition between John Ruskin and his younger contemporary, Walter Pater, over the nature of romanticism. Individual chapters reassess the Victorian reception of such romantic figures as Wordsworth, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Leonardo, and Michelangelo.
Daley demonstrates how Pater’s “modern” reading of romanticism emerged from Ruskin's distrust of romanticism and from Ruskin’s arguments and examples defining pathetic fallacy. His discussion of Ruskin’s Oxford lectures and their timing in Pater’s developing career refresh the intersections of the two bodies of work and the portrait of the Victorian period in general.
Rembrandt's life and art had an almost mythic resonance in nineteenth-century France with artists, critics, and collectors alike using his artistic persona both as a benchmark and as justification for their own goals. This first in-depth study of the traditional critical reception of Rembrandt reveals the preoccupation with his perceived "authenticity," "naturalism," and "naiveté," demonstrating how the artist became an ancestral figure, a talisman with whom others aligned themselves to increase the value of their own work. And in a concluding chapter, the author looks at the play Rembrandt, staged in Paris in 1898, whose production and advertising are a testament to the enduring power of the artist's myth.
Johanna Drucker's "sweet dream" is for a new and more positive approach to contemporary art. Calling for a revamping of the academic critical vocabulary used to discuss art into one more befitting current creative practices, Drucker argues that contemporary art is fully engaged with material culture—yet still struggling to escape the oppositional legacy of the early twentieth-century avant-garde.
Drucker shows that artists today are aware of working within the ideologies of mainstream culture and have replaced avant-garde defiance with eager complicity. Finding their materials at flea markets or exploring celebrity culture, contemporary artists have created a vibrantly participatory movement that exudes enthusiasm and affirmation—all while critics continue to cling to an outmoded vocabulary of opposition and radical negativity that defined modernism's avant-garde. At the cutting edge of new media research, Drucker surveys a wide range of exciting contemporary artists, demonstrating their clear departure from the past and petitioning viewers and critics to shift their terms and sensibilities as well. Sweet Dreams is a testament to the creative processes and self-conscious heterogeneity of art today as well as a revolutionary effort to solicit collaboration that will encourage the production of imaginative thought and contribute to contemporary life.
The essayist and cultural commentator Ilan Stavans and the analytic philosopher Jorge J. E. Gracia share long-standing interests in the intersection of art and ideas. Here they take thirteen pieces of Latino art, each reproduced in color, as occasions for thematic discussions. Whether the work at the center of a particular conversation is a triptych created by the brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Andres Serrano's controversial Piss Christ, a mural by the graffiti artist BEAR_TCK, or Above All Things, a photograph by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Stavans and Gracia's exchanges inevitably open out to literature, history, ethics, politics, religion, and visual culture more broadly. Autobiographical details pepper Stavans and Gracia's conversations, as one or the other tells what he finds meaningful in a given work. Sparkling with insight, their exchanges allow the reader to eavesdrop on two celebrated intellectuals—worldly, erudite, and unafraid to disagree—as they reflect on the pleasures of seeing.