rex butler and ian mclean double lecture

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

14.00 - 16.00, Research Forum South Room

black and white text image including words
Colin McCahon, Victory over Death 2 (detail), 1970. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Anthony Gardner (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Lecture I: The Artworld and World Art: Terry Smith's 'Provincialism Problem' Revisited

Speaker(s): Professor Ian McLean (University of Western Australia)

Terry Smith's essay 'The provincialism problem', published in 1974 in Artforum, was the first shot fired from the periphery at the centre and specifically at what Arthur Danto had ten years earlier dubbed the 'Artworld'. From that point can be mapped a campaign that escalated from postcolonialism to the current spectre of globalization and world art. This paper revisits this historical trajectory to ask what it means for contemporary conceptions of the Artworld. What and where is the Artworld today?

Ian McLean is the Winthrop Professor of Art History and Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and the Visual Arts at The University of Western Australia. An expert in art from Australia and postcolonial art and theory, McLean's books include White Aborigines: Identity Politics in Australian Art (1998, Cambridge UP) and, with Gordon Bennett, The Art of Gordon Bennett (1996, Craftsman House). He is also the editor of How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art (2011, Power Publications and IMA Publishing). His current research project, funded by the Australian Research Council, examines the mobilisation of remote Aboriginal art centre records for art history.

Lecture II: Colin McCahon’s Afterlife

Speaker(s): Associate Professor Rex Butler (University of Queensland)

Thomas Crow once wrote in Artforum that the work of New Zealand painter Colin McCahon was at least the equal of Barnett Newman’s and Mark Rothko’s. But what would it be like living in faraway and provincial New Zealand in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, knowing you were great but that you would not be recognised (if at all) until after your death? This is the secret conviction of all artists: that they are under-recognised and that their time will come later. The difference is McCahon's response to this. What is the nature of this response? This paper will take up this question through a reading of Peter Carey's novel Theft (2006), which is based in part on McCahon, and a number of the artistic receptions of McCahon, in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Rex Butler is Associate Professor of Art History at The University of Queensland, Australia. His research concentrates on contemporary art and criticism, critical theory and histories of Australian art. Among his many publications are What is Appropriation? (1996, reprinted 2004), Radical Revisionism (2005), Jean Baudrillard: Defence of the Real (1999) and Slavoj Zizek: Live Theory (2002, translated into numerous languages). His most recent book is Borges' Short Stories: A Reader's Guide (Continuum, 2010).

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