Newsletter Archive: Spring 2002
The American Art Programme Five Years On: A Snapshot of Spring Term 2002
January 2002: The "Postmodernism and Body
Politics" MA seminar travels to New York. Since 1998, annual study
visits to New York and Philadelphia, supported by the Blunt Travel Fund,
have been at the core of seminar work for "The Duchamp Effect in American
Art" (1996-1998) and the new Postmodernism MA special option. This
year, Anna Maria Maiolino, Italian-Brazilian conceptual artist, is in New
York to complete an artist residency at the alternative gallery Art in General
where she has constructed a temporary installation in clay, working daily
in the gallery space itself. I first encountered Maiolinos accumulations
of unfired clay in the exhibition Inside the Visible at the Whitechapel
Art Gallery in the autumn of 1996 with my first Courtauld students. Catherine
de Zegher, Curator of Inside the Visible, is now Director of
the Drawing Center in New York and has mounted an exhibition of Maiolinos
drawings. Maiolino and De Zegher meet us at the Drawing Center to talk about
the show. In New York we also meet Silvia Kolbowski. Kolbowski, who describes
herself as a post-studio artist, invites us to her home/work/space to discuss
a recent project entitled "an inadequate history of conceptual art"
(published as photo-and-text piece in October 92, Spring 2000).
We also see exhibitions at Exit Art, the Dia Center, P.S. 1, the Bronx
Museum, Artists Space, and at galleries in Chelsea, SoHo, and the
Upper East Side, including a show at Max Protech Gallery on proposals
for the future of the World Trade Center site.
March 2002: Visiting Lecturer Anna Dezeuze conducts the second annual "Fluxus Workshop and Mini Fluxfest" in the Lecture Theatre (see Courtauld Institute of Art News, issue no. 11, Summer 2001, for Dezeuzes account of last years event). Gustav Metzger, Fluxus-associated artist and author of Auto-Destructive Art (1959) attends the Fluxfest and is tied up in string by MA students performing a Fluxus score. Anna Dezeuze (BA 1997, MA 1998) is now completing a Ph.D. at the Courtauld on "The Do-It-Yourself Artwork: art and spectator participation and the 'dematerialisation of the art object, 1946-1966" and sharing teaching duties with me for the course "Histories of 20th Century Art: American Art, 1945-1972."
Since 1996 when I arrived at the Courtauld to teach post-World War II and contemporary art under the aegis of the newly formed American Art Programme, I have had the pleasure of working with many extraordinary students, some of whom have gone on to contribute their talents to museums, galleries, and publishers in the UK, Europe, and the US, including Tate, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Anthony dOffay Gallery (London), the Womens Art Library (London) and the Paula Cooper Gallery (New York), or to pursue Ph.D. research. Several MA graduates have stayed on or returned to undertake doctoral work at the Courtauld: Paula Feldman (MA 1998), who is researching the reception of Minimalism in northern Europe; Antony Hudek (MA, 2001), who is writing on "Negations of the Public Sphere: New York, 1977-1984; Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski (BA, 1999, MA 2001), who is researching "Confinement and Illusions of Freedom: the dialogue between Polish and American Conceptual Art, 1970-1980; and Anna Lovatt (MA 2001), who is working on drawing in the context of Conceptual Art, 1965-1975. As this list of topics suggests, the American Art Programme has become home to a culturally and intellectually diverse community of scholars and interests, and the site for a sustained re-examination of the histories of American art in an international context. In MA dissertations and Ph.D. theses, a distinctive body of research has begun to take shape concentrating on the historical, political, and theoretical interrelations of North American, European and Latin American avant-gardes in the postwar period.
Sadly, the dearth of scholarships for non-EU research students excludes many very gifted MA graduates from continuing at the Courtauld for doctoral work. Our current challenge is to raise the funds necessary to support a truly international research community at the Courtauld.
Prof. Mignon Nixon