Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation

Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation

Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation

Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation

Excerpt

MARCIA TUCKER

In much thinking and writing about contemporary art today, the focus is on those aspects of art that have more to do with questions of taste, style, fashion, or judgment than with more fundamental ideas and issues. This is partly because contemporary art has become increasingly visible and popular since the mid-1970s. Art is no longer seen as an elitist pursuit, remote from the interests and concerns of the public at large. Today, contemporary art has lost much of its radical hermeticism; even the term "avant-garde" has little impact when every new artistic manifestation seems equally subject to cooption by commercial interests.

Ironically, at the moment of contemporary art's greatest popularity, its criticism has become the subject of considerable abuse. Over and over again we hear that there is no single dominant issue on which to cut one's aesthetic teeth, or that "pluralism" indicates not only a lack of artistic quality, but also a lack of critical leadership. Or, worse yet, that art criticism has now receded into a deeper hermeticism, behind a veil of pompous jargon. This anthology attempts to redress some of this confusion and to provide a serious critical frame of reference for the art of our time.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art was founded on the premise that works of art are not only objects for visual delectation and assessment, but are repositories for ideas that reverberate in the larger context of our culture. Since the Museum is devoted to showing the work of the previous ten years, scholarship and documentation are essential to its basic function. Indeed, the more recent the work, the more important it is to provide it with a historical and critical framework. Therefore, as no comprehensive anthology of important writing on contemporary art of the 1980s has yet been published and especially in the light of the increasing popularity of the visual arts in recent years, we hope that this anthology will provide valuable documentary resource material.

This book is directed to several audiences at once. First, it is intended for a general audience, regularly exposed to images of the contemporary art world through the media, but often without the benefit of analysis or understanding. At the same time, it is directed to art professionals, for whom the issues addressed are an essential part of our work. These include critics and writers, museum professionals, dealers, and teachers of art history and aesthetics, all of whom support and contribute to the critical dialogue. And, of course, this . . .

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