American Artists on Art from 1940 to 1980

American Artists on Art from 1940 to 1980

American Artists on Art from 1940 to 1980

American Artists on Art from 1940 to 1980

Synopsis

From the Preface:The fact that so much of modern art has devoted itself to the exploration and assertion of its own identity is reflected in, but does not explain, the increasing amount of writing and talking on the part of contemporary artists. Rather, the whole history of the changing role of art and artists in a democratic, industrial, and technological society stands behind the spate of artists' words and the public's hunger for them- even some of the general public out there beyond art's little circle. Statements by artists appeal somewhat the way drawings do: they bring us, or at least they hold the promise of bringing us, closer to the artist's thoughts and feelings and to an understanding of his or her modus operandi; they hold the keys to a mysterious realm. And sometimes they offer us the sheer pleasure of good reading. Such is the primary raison d'être of this book. Its other motivation is educational, and stems from the frustrating lack, in teaching contemporary art, of any single compilation of statements by American artists from 1940 to the present.… This anthology differs in several respects from those others that do include documents of American art since 1940.… The selection I have made is devoted exclusively to statements of artists; it is limited to the last four decades; it presents in a single volume a representative and fairly comprehensive coverage of major developments in American art beginning with Abstract Expressionism; and, whenever possible, it cities the first, or among the very earliest, documents signalizing a shift in the definition, intent, or direction of art."

Excerpt

The fact that so much of modern art has devoted itself to the exploration and assertion of its own identity is reflected in, but does not explain, the increasing amount of writing and talking on the part of contemporary artists. Rather, the whole history of the changing role of art and artists in a democratic, industrial, and technological society stands behind the spate of artists' words and the public's hunger for them—even some of the general public out there beyond art's little circle. Statements by artists appeal somewhat the way drawings do: they bring us, or at least they hold the promise of bringing us, closer to the artist's thoughts and feelings and to an understanding of his or her modus operandi; they hold the keys to a mysterious realm. And sometimes they offer us the sheer pleasure of good reading. Such is the primary raison d'être of this book.

Its other motivation is educational, and stems from the frustrating lack, in teaching contemporary art, of any single compilation of statements by American artists from 1940 to the present. For courses in earlier modern art, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, there are several useful anthologies, such as the Sources and Documents series, which include writings by artists together with those of their critics and associates. As a teacher who cherishes the belief that, regardless of what explications and interpretations we historians and critics might assign to an artist's work, the person who created it should have first say, I have especially prized Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, Artists on Art. This is acknowledged in the title of my anthology, which can be seen as a latterday extension of theirs, although theirs embraces more centuries than mine does decades.

This anthology differs in several respects from those others that do include documents of American art since 1940 (such as Barbara Rose, ed., Readings in American Art 1900-1975, and Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art) and from those that present specific groups (e.g., Cindy Nemser, Art Talk: Conversations with Twelve Women Artists) or individual movements (e.g., Gregory Battcock's several "critical anthologies" on minimal art, super-realism, video, etc.—the early ones apparently the least hastily compiled). The selection I have made is devoted exclusively to statements of artists; it is limited to the last four decades; it presents in a single volume a representative and fairly comprehensive coverage of major developments in American art beginning with Abstract Expressionism; and, whenever possible, it cites the first, or among the very earliest, documents signalizing a shift in the definition, intent, or direction of art.

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