spring 2011 friends lecture series

Global Conceptualism

One and Three Ideas: Conceptualism Before, During and After Conceptual Art

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

front cover of 'Art and Language' with inset image of cover of Time magazine with figures running away in the collapse of Vietnam
Art & Language (Terry Smith), Art & Language Australia, 1975

Speaker(s): Terry Smith (Andrew W Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Sarah Wilson and Professor Boris Groys

It is a nice paradox that the term “conceptualism” came into art world existence after the advent of Conceptual Art –– most prominently and programmatically in the exhibition Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s (New York: Queens Museum, 1999) –– mainly in order to highlight the fact that innovative, experimental art practices occurred in Japan, South America, and elsewhere prior to, at the same time as and after the European and US initiatives that had come to seem paradigmatic, and to emphasize that these practices were more socially and politically engaged –– and thus more relevant to the present and better art –– than the well-known EuroAmerican exemplars. Triggered by remarks made by some of the key artists back in the day (and some made, later, by curators), Terry Smith revisits the terms “Conceptual Art” and “conceptualism” as pointers to what was at stake in the unraveling of late modern art during the 1960s and in art’s embrace of contemporaneity since.

Terry Smith, FAHA, CIHA, is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the 2009 winner of the Mather Award for art criticism conferred by the College Art Association (USA). From 1994-2001 he was Power Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Power Institute, Foundation for Art and Visual Culture, University of Sydney. He was a member of the Art & Language group (New York) and a founder of Union Media Services (Sydney). He is the author of a number of books, notably Making the Modern: Industry, Art and Design in America (University of Chicago Press, 1993; inaugural Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Book Prize 2009); Transformations in Australian Art, volume 1, The Nineteenth Century: Landscape, Colony and Nation, volume 2, The Twentieth Century: Modernism and Aboriginality (Craftsman House, Sydney, 2002); The Architecture of Aftermath (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and What is Contemporary Art? (University of Chicago Press, 2009). His Contemporary Art: World Currents (Laurence King and Pearson/Prentice-Hall) will appear in July. A foundation Board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, he is currently a Board member of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. See www.terryesmith.net/web

This lecture series will complement the new Research Forum/Andrew W Mellon Foundation M.A. on ‘Global Conceptualism’, run by Dr Sarah Wilson with Visiting Professor Groys (New York University) who will be teaching its philosophy-based component in the Spring term. Known for his active role in the Moscow Conceptualist art movement, Groys’ The Communist Postscript (Verso 2009) pursues a story which is now playing out in the reconfiguration of the global art world. The impact of the conceptual art to which he responded in the late 1960s was felt across the world, from West to East and from northern to southern hemispheres. Here the father-figure of the movement, Joseph Kosuth, returns in the company of younger generations of artists, art historians and curators who extend reflections upon art, object, image and word through time and space from their specific geographies and histories to the immaterial.

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