The Prehistory of Exhibition History

By grupa o.k. (Julian Myers and Joanna Szupinska)

Art history has long included studies of exhibitions as episodes or turning points within more expansive narratives. Such moments have opened art histories based in the studio, or among the members of a small, bohemian circle, to a larger social field that includes politics, audience, and market, before returning to the private or small-group interactions that have equally served to drive art’s internal means.

Art Embedded into Protest: Staging the Ukrainian Maidan

By Nazar Kozak

Around 9:00am on January 24, 2014, Maxym Vehera, an amateur artist, comes to Hrushevskyi Street in Kyiv, mounts his portable easel some one hundred yards from the riot police line, and spends five hours painting the scene of a street fight in progress. Black smoke from the burning barricade veils the sky, tear gas irritates the frosty air, a stun grenade explosion shuts all senses down. The canvas falls to the ground, into the mixture of snow and ashes. Vehera picks it up, wipes off the dirt, and continues to paint amid chaos.

Candida Höfer’s Türken in Deutschland as “Counter-publicity”

By Amy A. DaPonte

Millions of Turkish immigrants settled in Germany after World War II to answer the call of politicians who needed to refresh the labor force after the war. Images of Turks at work or leisure in the parks, homes, markets, shops, and bars of 1970s West German cities populate Candida Höfer’s large, multiformat series entitled Türken in Deutschland (Turks in Germany, 1972–79).

Solitary/Solidary: Mario Merz’s Autonomous Artist

By Elizabeth Mangini

In 1968, while demonstrating students occupied university buildings less than a mile away, the Italian artist Mario Merz hung a handful of neon lights bent into the numerals 1, 1, 2, 3, and 5 above the kitchen stove in his home on Via Santa Giulia in Turin. It wasn’t yet an artwork, just something to think about in the place where he and his wife, fellow artist Marisa Merz, gathered to talk with each other and with friends.

Space Travel: Trisha Brown’s Locus

By Amanda Jane Graham

In 1974 the choreographer Trisha Brown moved to 541 Broadway in SoHo, New York City. The cast-iron “nexus” for postmodern dance, commonly referred to as “the dance building,” had what the former Brown company dancer Elizabeth Garren describes as a “communal atmosphere.” Purchased and renovated by the Fluxus founder George Maciunas “with dancers in mind,” 541 was wider than the majority of the standard buildings in the neighborhood, and more important, it contained no interior pillars, making it an ideal choreographic work space.

Small Boats, Slave Ship; or, Isaac Julien and the Beauty of Implied Catastrophe

By Emma Chubb

Three horizontal screens stretch across two gallery walls, suspended from the ceiling and hung in a slight arc. At first, the two flanking screens remain dark and only the center screen is illuminated. It shows an expanse of blue water, waves rippling with gold and reflecting the setting sun as they gently curl forward onto a barely visible beach.

The Arctic Plants of New York City: An Annotated Bibliography

By James Walsh

I’ve been working since 2008 on a long, complex project centered on plants that grow in both the arctic (I always use the lowercase) and New York City, of which there are a surprising number. Along with identifying and pressing these plants, I’ve been reading eighteenth-century herbals and floras and more recent works on edible plants and botany generally, and have had a particular interest in mental travel and in writers who combine botany and literature.

Leaving Düsseldorf

By Godfre Leung

Godfre Leung reviews Sabine Breitwieser, Laura J. Hoptman, Michael Darling, and Jeffrey D. Grove, Isa Genzken: Retrospective, and the exhibition Isa Genzken: Retrospective; Kathy Halbreich, ed., Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010, and the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010; and Elodie Evers, Magdalena Holzhey, and Gregor Jansen, eds., Leben mit Pop and the exhibition Leben mit Pop.

In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Participation): Photography and Agency in Martha Rosler’s Collaboration with Homeward Bound

By Adair Rounthwaite

It seems obvious to state that photographs play a central role in our ability to study participatory art. Art historians, however, have largely bracketed this as an issue that might be important for how we conceive the politics and aesthetics of participation.

Dada Dance: Sophie Taeuber’s Visceral Abstraction

By Nell Andrew

In a recent landmark exhibition on the intersection of art and dance, Danser sa vie, the Centre Georges Pompidou displayed an enigmatic photograph identified as the artist Sophie Taeuber dancing at the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. It is not uncommon for a photograph to stand in as an icon of a live event and offer what we hope is access to some present now passed, but for decades scholars have disagreed on the date and location of the Taeuber photograph.

Sexing Sculpture: New Approaches to Theorizing the Object

By Jillian Hernandez and Susan Richmond

This forum, which originated as a panel at the 2013 Annual Conference of the College Art Association in New York, developed from the following question: how do sculptural practices uphold or, conversely, equivocate the certainties of gendered and sexual embodiment?

Through the Looking-Glass, Darkly

By Tina Rivers

When H. H. Arnason published the first edition of his 1968 book The History of Modern Art, it ended with a one-page entry on “Psychedelic Art.” Positioning the inchoate movement as a bridge between the modern and contemporary periods, the entry was a blueprint for a future that would never come to pass, and was expunged from all further editions, helping to relegate psychedelia to the proverbial dustbin of history.

“A Clear Day and No Memories”: Neurology, Philosophy, and Analogy in Kerry Tribe’s H.M.

By Matthew Goulish

In order to begin I must tell a horror story. I will try to mitigate the horror, through accuracy of telling, through facts, and through a degree of humility before them. Yet I will acknowledge it. I mean I already have. Horror is not fact.

Sharing an Archive of Feelings: A Conversation

By Tammy Rae Carland and Ann Cvetkovich

As I remember, we met in 1995 in Portland, Oregon, through our musician girlfriends. I had just finished graduate school and had gone to New York, to the Whitney Independent Study Program, and I was about to be deployed, which is the way I think about it, to my first teaching job in the middle of Indiana.

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.