Category: Minimal Art

Beyond Objecthood : The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968
by James Voorhies

In 1968, Robert Smithson reacted to Michael Fried’s influential essay “Art and Objecthood” with a series of works called non-sites. While Fried described the spectator’s connection with a work of art as a momentary visual engagement, Smithson’s non-sites asked spectators to do something more: to take time looking, walking, seeing, reading, and thinking about the combination of objects, images, and texts installed in a gallery. In Beyond Objecthood, James Voorhies traces a genealogy of spectatorship through the rise of the exhibition as a critical form — and artistic medium. Artists like Smithson, Group Material, and Michael Asher sought to reconfigure and expand the exhibition and the museum into something more active, open, and democratic, by inviting spectators into new and unexpected encounters with works of art and institutions. This practice was sharply critical of the ingrained characteristics long associated with art institutions and conventional exhibition-making; and yet, Voorhies finds, over time the critique has been diluted by efforts of the very institutions that now gravitate to the “participatory.” Beyond Objecthood focuses on innovative figures, artworks, and institutions that pioneered the exhibition as a critical form, tracing its evolution through the activities of curator Harald Szeemann, relational art, and New Institutionalism. Voorhies examines recent artistic and curatorial work by Liam Gillick, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Holler, Maria Lind, Apolonija Sustersic, and others, at such institutions as Documenta, e-flux, Manifesta, and Office for Contemporary Art Norway, and he considers the continued potential of the exhibition as a critical form in a time when the differences between art and entertainment increasingly blur.

James Voorhies is a curator and art historian of modern and contemporary art. He is Dean of Fine Arts and Associate Professor at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

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On The Museum’s Ruins
by Douglas Crimp (photographs by Louise Lawler)

On the Museum’s Ruins presents Douglas Crimp’s criticism of contemporary art, its institutions, and its politics alongside photographic works by the artist Louise Lawler to create a collaborative project that is itself an example of postmodern practice at its most provocative. Crimp elaborates the new paradigm of postmodernism through analyses of art practices broadly conceived, not only the practices of artists—Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, Marcel Broodthaers, Richard Serra, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Mapplethorpe—but those of critics and curators, of international exhibitions, and of new or refurbished museums such as the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.

The essays:

– Photographs at the End of Modernism.
– On the Museum’s Ruins.
– The Museum’s Old, the Library’s New Subject.
– The End of Painting.
– The Photographic Activity of Postmodernism.
– Appropriating Appropriation.
– Redefining Site Specificity.
– This is Not a Museum of Art.
– The Art of Exhibition.
– The Postmodern Museum.

About the Author
Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He is the author of On the Museum’s Ruins and Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, both published by the MIT Press.

Reviews
“Literate and provocative speculations about art, photography, postmodernism, homoeroticism, Rauchenberg and Mapplethorpe, museums and libraries.”

Endorsements
“Crimp’s essays comprise one of the most interesting and incisive bodies of work on practices of contemporary art in relationships to art as institution.”
—Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University

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Franz Erhard Walther
First Work Set

Comprising 58 fabric elements – what the artist has termed ‘instruments for process’ – this multi-part sculpture, began in 1963 in Düsseldorf and was completed in 1969 in New York City, is Walther’s most ambitious work.

This publication retraces Walther’s use of malleable materials and ephemeral ‘actions’ as the basis for his sculptures, his understanding of the role of language, and the presence of drawing as integral to his conception of space. As with Walther’s similar works, First Work Set’s individual fabric elements are activated by visitors in a series of quotidian actions such as folding, dropping, leaning and measuring, that often entail cooperation among a couple or a group.

For decades, museum exhibitions of this work have placed folded archival versions of the fabric elements in vitrines, preventing viewers from receiving the direct, performative encounter originally intended by the artist.

For this exhibition at Dia:Beacon, Dia worked collaboratively with Walther to select a number of the original fabric elements available to be directly handled and performed by visitors. During the exhibition, Dia held an event inviting leading scholars to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the work firsthand in this way, and to present new thinking on his oeuvre.

This book is a unique project grown out of the inclusion of this major work in Dia’s collection in the exhibition Franz Erhard Walther: Work as Action, presented at Dia:Beacon, New York, 2 October 2010 – 15 February 2012.

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Franz Erhard Walther
Werkmonographie 1955 - 1963; Material zum 1. Werksatz 1963 - 1969

Profusely illustrated catalogue raisonné of German artist Franz Erhard Walther, published in conjunction with show held at the Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany, May 11, 1972 – July 9, 1972. Features generous documentation of his works from the 1960s and 1970s, including many great works in paper and fabric.
This book is in AS NEW condition, published in 1972.
Text in German with an English introduction.

Edited by Götz Adriani.
Text by Manfred Schmalriede.

Having participated in Harald Szeemann’s legendary When Attitudes Become Form (1969) and dOCUMENTA V (1972) as well as the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark Spaces (1970), Walther’s remarkable coupling of elementary forms with conceptual ideas and a radical rethinking of the relationship between sculpture and action, has become so influential to the contemporary practices of young artists today.
The German conceptualist and sculptor Franz Erhard Walther counts among those artists who, in the 1960s, sought to undermine the authorial role of the artist in favour of a more democratic aesthetic dependent on the interaction of viewer and object; simple and individual acts such as folding and lying, leaning and stepping are either the source of his often minimal works or the means by which individual viewers may interact with them. His means of sculptural expression often involved the use of soft materials. His canvas sculptures are simply meant to be held, worn, lain in or stood under, usually by two or more people, creating strange moments of social intimacy and spatial awareness.

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