“Medium” is a central concept in 2th-century art criticism. This is the first book-length exploration of how the status of traditional mediums (painting, sculpture, drawing) has been transformed in modern and contemporary art by the rise of photography, film, broadcast tv and other technologies. It presents original research on many famous artists together with a fresh theoretical approach that challenges some of the most entrenched criticism of the past several decades. It reconsiders key practices in modern art in relation to specific technologies of the time rather than through the strict current idea of medium. Thus we get to watch Paul Klee tinker in the darkroom, Hans Bellmer figuring out how to make doube-exposures in motion pictures, an aging Chris Marker gleefully experimenting with digital technology, Robert Smithson taking apart a Xerox machine, Douglas Huebler brushing up on basic chemistry, and Gerhard Richter adapting his technical knowledge of mass printing and photo reproduction to produce a full-blown aesthetic agenda and set of artistic protocols for painting. Other artists considered include Ellsworth Kelley, Tacita Dean, and networks that draw in Duchamp, Kiesler, Picasso, Twombly, Rauschenberg, Mel Bochner, and more.
Ad Reinhardt is probably best known for his black paintings, which aroused as much controversy as admiration in the American art world when they were first exhibited in the 1950s. Although his ideas about art and life were often at odds with those of his contemporaries, they prefigured the ascendance of minimalism. Reinhardt's interest in the Orient and in religion, his strong convictions about the value of abstraction, and his disgust with the commercialism of the art world are as fresh and valid today as they were when he first expressed them.
Rob Storr on Ad Reinhardt
Oral History Interview with Ad Reinhardt, 1964 (transcript)
The definitive chronicle of the origins of French avant-garde literature and art, Roger Shattuck's classic portrays the cultural bohemia of turn-of-the-century Paris who carried the arts into a period of renewal and accomplishment and laid the groundwork for Dadaism and Surrealism. Shattuck focuses on the careers of Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, and Guillaume Apollinaire, using the quartet as window into the era as he exploring a culture whose influence is at the very foundation of modern art
Further Reading available as PDF:
Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
This is the premier collection of dialogues, talks, and writings by Philip Guston (1913–1980), one of the most intellectually adventurous and poetically gifted of modern painters. Over the course of his life, Guston’s wide reading in literature and philosophy deepened his commitment to his art—from his early Abstract Expressionist paintings to his later gritty, intense figurative works. This collection, with many pieces appearing in print for the first time, lets us hear Guston’s voice—as the artist delivers a lecture on Renaissance painting, instructs students in a classroom setting, and discusses such artists and writers as Piero della Francesca, de Chirico, Picasso, Kafka, Beckett, and Gogol.
Robert Irwin, who is one of the most important artists of this era, was a seminal figure in "Light and Space" art. He began as an Abstract Expressionist painter in the 1950s, and was for some time (but is no longer) an artist who produced no art obejcts. Irwin's philosophical and aesthetic theories are so far-reaching that only now, some twenty years after they were first posited, has the art world begun to recognize that his questions about perception come to bear upon the definition of art itself. In the 1960s, his disc paintings succeeded in "breaking the edge of the canvas," with the resultant effect that the space surrounding the work became equally important. In the 1970s, Irwin created room-environment pieces of a phenomenal or non-object nature across the United States. Comprised solely of light, string, or nylon scrim, these works placed the responsibility upon the viewer in order to bring him to a position where he could "perceive himself perceiving" – "The Mondrian was no longer on the wall – the viewer was in the Mondrian." In the last ten years, Irwin's sculptural aesthetic and his philosophical theories have merged to provide the impetus behind a major body of sculpture created in response to a specific site, situation, or locale. Irwin's importance as an artist lies not only in the beauty and clarity of his precendent-setting work, but in his theoretical contribtion, which provides a framework by which all phenomenal works can be examined. This book, written by the artist, lays out his theoretical position and documents the working processes behind seventeen major sculpture projects created over the past decade. — from dust jacket.
Fiercely competitive yet amicable, Matisse and Picasso engaged in one of the most formidable artistic dialogues of this century — from the time they met in 1906 until Matisse's death in 1954.Although particularly intense moments of this relationship have already been studied, it has never been examined in its entirety. In this book, Yve-Alain Bois stages the intertwined evolution of Matisse and Picasso as an ongoing game of chess between two masters.The book concentrates on this extraordinary artistic partnership as it develops from the early Thirties on, at the time when Picasso rediscovers Matisse's sculpture and Matisse, in part responding to Picasso's challenge, definitively abandons his odalisques of the Nice period. Both artists acquired works by the other and throughout the Thirties each artist attempted to translate the idiom of the other into his own. Although separated during the War, Matisse and Picasso nevertheless resume their barter of paintings and never stop thinking about each other's work.The post-war period is the most tender in their long friendship. Geographically close at last, they meet often and exhibit together. Picasso's 1946 creations at Antibes have an impact on Matisse while Picasso admires Matisse's spectacular interiors of 1947-48. Even if he is irritated by Matisse's Vence Chapel, Picasso's answer in Vallauris will be a Temple of his own — that is, a form of homage to his artistic friend and rival. Picasso's best tribute to Matisse, however, will come in the series of paintings he realizes shortly after his death, notably the series of the Women of Algiers and of The Studio of 1955-56.The book is published in conjuction with an exhibition atthe Kimbell Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas.
Selected Lectures & Panel Discussions
The Difficult Task of Erasing…Twentieth Century Art
The Life And Death of Objects (Panel)
Picasso and Abstraction: Encounters and Avoidance