Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

By Sarah Betzer

Spurred by global economic contractions, by the attention of politicians, legislators, and pundits, and certainly also by the historical curiosity and critical orientation of its ranks, the academy at present is in the thrall of self-scrutiny. What is the past, present, and future of the research university, an invention of stunningly recent vintage and yet of remarkable structural resilience?

If It Need Be Termed Surrender: Trisha Donnelly’s Subjunctive Case

By Michael Jay McClure

Allow for a problem within contemporary art, a problem concerning emptiness. After experiencing and writing on installations that, say, immersed me in cave systems, faux-hospitals, or forests, after navigating landscapes of fur or video labyrinths, I found myself, often, elsewhere. A group of contemporary installations seemed overwhelmingly spare, a few small objects, and I began to wonder what such a shift of spatial tenancy meant.

Precarious Symbolism: When the Political Sphere Overshadows Art History

By Maymanah Farha

As the methodical beat of a handheld drum begins to pound, a bearded, turbaned figure is shown lying on a bare floor. Overcome by emotional agony, he moves as though waking from a trance. A mane of dark hair frames his painted face as the camera zooms in and his melodic eulogy to lost love commences.

Zero at the Bone: Louise Fishman Speaks with Carrie Moyer

By Louise Fishman and Carrie Moyer

This all came to me in the last couple of weeks. In the late 1980s, early 1990s, my partner and I had gone to Madrid to see the big Velázquez retrospective. I’d never been to the Prado. I spent a lot of time looking at the Velázquez and wandering around the museum. Eventually I found Goya’s Black Paintings.

The Terms of Craft and Other Means of Making: Lee Bontecou’s Hybrid Trajectory

By Elyse Speaks

In 1958 Lee Bontecou began experimenting with a technique for making sculpture based on binding fabric to thin steel frames or armatures. Executed first on a small scale that oscillated between the form of the model and the form of tabletop sculpture, the works were emphatic in their distance from the shape and tenor of the dominant field of welded metal sculpture.

Shame: The One That Got Away

By Josephine Halvorson
The nineteenth-century painter Samuel Palmer lived within two hundred yards of the cemetery, making drawings, notes, and paintings in what he called the Valley of Visions in an effort to “bring up a mystic glimmer.” Sinclair, London Orbital Acid rain has eroded the words. Lichens, like Van Gogh blooms in orange and yellow, cling to the mauve stone.

Ground Control: Painting in the Work of Cosima von Bonin

By Gregory H. Williams

During the past decade a steady flow of critical writing on contemporary painting has appeared, much of it seeking to define changes to the practice that have taken place since 1990. In several often-cited essays, a shared theme has emerged in which late-twentieth-century painting is described as undergoing a crisis of containment.

We Are Pop People

By Joshua Shannon

Anyone seeking a crisp argument for the importance of contemporary art history should welcome the introduction of Hal Foster’s latest book, The First Pop Age. Foster justifies his careful look back at five key Pop artists by persuasively arguing that their work reveals and investigates a new stage, ascendant in the early 1960s, in the history of capitalist culture.

This Land Is Their Land

By Suzaan Boettger

Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, the bold title of the exhibition and catalogue organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and on view there in 2012 and later at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, evokes the grand ambitions of artists’ environmental imaginations in the early 1970s.

Lights, Camera, Action!

By Mechtild Widrich

Should we judge a book by its cover? The image on the front of the massive new publication on a taboo-breaking group of Austrian postwar artists shows a crowd of people gazing, some with obvious disapproval, into the camera. Among them we see policemen —something has happened or is about to, a crime perhaps—but we cannot see what has given rise to the incident.

Reign of Error

By Barry Schwabsky

John Roberts is one of the more original and independent thinkers among contemporary art historians, and his wide-ranging reflections often take him well outside the boundaries of the discipline. In fact, he sometimes seems at pains to obscure what might be called the art-historical use-value of his work in order to underline its broader implications; he prefers to be seen, it appears, as a sort of unlicensed philosopher.

New Realisms in the 1960s

By Jaimey Hamilton

The term nouveau réalisme, or new realism, has long been tied to the specific claims made by the critic Pierre Restany about the Paris-based art group he promoted. Restany convinced Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Daniel Spoerri, Martial Raysse, Jacques de la Villeglé, Raymond Hains, and François Dufrêne to sign on initially, and then added César, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Gérard Deschamps, Mimmo Rotella, and Christo.

City after Fifty Years’ Living: L.A.’s Differences in Relation

By Malik Gaines

A marketing triumph, Pacific Standard Time has been responsible for a series of promotional videos, slickly produced, that pair an honored artist with a Southern California celebrity. The shining success among these original works is the pairing of the late design team Ray and Charles Eames with the rapper and actor Ice Cube.

In Print

By Katy Siegel

At my first meeting as editor-in-chief, the Art Journal Editorial Board learned that due to fallout from the financial crisis of 2008–9, CAA could not afford to publish the journal as a quarterly—there would only be three issues in 2010, with reduced color and page count. It turns out that printing a magazine is, as these things go, a luxury.

The Binder and the Server

By Triple Canopy

At first a convenience, then quickly a conundrum: Of course we would publish on the internet. We came of age with the medium, it was our generation’s default. Plus, financially speaking, it remained—and remains, for now—a wheat-paste endeavor: nine dollars a month to hold down a domain name.

Fête in Venice

By Seth McCormick

Hiroko Ikegami’s The Great Migrator, which toward the end quotes Homi Bhabha on the subjects of postcolonial mimicry and hybridization, is itself something of a hybrid: part traditional monograph, part Foucauldian genealogy of contemporary art in the age of globalization.

Reconstruction

By Katy Siegel

For several days in 2000, William Pope.L sat enthroned on a towering toilet, contemplating and quite literally consuming The Wall Street Journal, dusted with white powder and surrounded by the great American fluids—milk and ketchup. This performance grew from an earlier 1991 version, staged on the street, and the artist has reenacted the performance several times since, most recently at the New Museum in New York in 2010.

Experimentation and Tradition: The Avant-Garde Play Pierrot Lunaire by Jikken Kōbō and Takechi Tetsuji

By Miwako Tezuka

During the 1950s, after the devastating defeat in World War II, Japan exerted itself to regain political and economic confidence. Arts and culture played a key role in the country’s recovery: the image of a belligerent nation in the recent past needed to be replaced by a new impression of Japan as a peaceful nation of culture; the people were yearning for a return of their cultural life, or simply, entertainments; and, released from the straitjacket that suppressed free expression, artists quickly resumed their creative activities.

Making Time

Time is passing quickly; as I write this, I realize that I am more than halfway through my tenure as editor-in-chief of Art Journal.

Art & Soul: An Experimental Friendship between the Street and a Museum

By Rebecca Zorach

In the summer of 1968, as the Democratic National Committee prepared to roll into Chicago, the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art was entering into an unusual partnership—an “experimental friendship”—with an organization called CVL, Inc. What’s remarkable about this organization was that it was the new incarnation of a notorious street gang known as the Vice Lords.

Race to the Finish

By Katy Siegel

This is the first issue of Art Journal published in 2011, CAA’s Centennial year. We will mark the occasion throughout the year, helped by scholars and artists and a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Our website launched in February, in response to the changing nature of art writing and publishing, and to the wish to attend to time-based and new media art.

Charles and Ray Eames in India

By Saloni Mathur

A photograph of the living room of the Eames house in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles has proven rather puzzling to historians of design. It depicts the famous Case Study House as full of exotic collectibles. Hopi kachina dolls, seashells, craft objects, silk textiles from Nepal and Thailand, and elaborately patterned rugs from Mexico and India all crowd and assault their modernist frame.

Soul-Beating

By David Reed

I was a student at the New York Studio School during the fall of 1966 and spring of 1967. The school was then located in a loft building on the northeast corner of Broadway and Bleecker Street. Draft deferments during the Vietnam War were not granted to students attending an art school, especially an unaccredited one like the Studio School.

Lee Lozano, Lee Lozano: Notebooks 1967–70

By Lauren O’Neill-Butler

“HISTORY DRAGS.” Of the many shrewd observations and witticisms that Lee Lozano (1930–1999) recorded in her notebooks, this one strikes deepest when considering the revival of interest in her work. Of course, we’ll never know her opinion on the widespread, international attention that has been lavished on her art and life over the last decade.