January Meeting: Terry Smith, What is Contemporary Art? “Chapter Eight: From the Desert to the Fair”

The next Aboriginal Art Reading Group meeting will be Monday, January 17 at 5:30pm in the Graduate Resource Room, ground floor of the Elisabeth Murdoch Building, opposite the staff kitchen.

We will be reading two chapters from Terry Smith’s book, 2009, What is Contemporary Art?: “Introduction: Contemporary Art Inside Out,” and “Chapter Eight: From the Desert to the Fair.”

A copy of the readings, available for photocopying, will be located in an envelope on the notice board outside Dr Susan Lowish’s office, room G27, ground floor Elisabeth Murdoch Building early next week.

See below for the University of Chicago’s book synopsis:

Who gets to say what counts as contemporary art? Artists, critics, curators, gallerists, auctioneers, collectors, or the public? Revealing how all of these groups have shaped today’s multifaceted definition, Terry Smith brilliantly shows that an historical approach offers the best answer to the question: What is Contemporary Art?

Smith argues that the most recognizable kind is characterized by a return to mainstream modernism in the work of such artists as Richard Serra and Gerhard Richter, as well as the retro-sensationalism of figures like Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami. At the same time, Smith reveals, postcolonial artists are engaged in a different kind of practice: one that builds on local concerns and tackles questions of identity, history, and globalization. A younger generation embodies yet a third approach to contemporaneity by investigating time, place, mediation, and ethics through small-scale, closely connective art making. Inviting readers into these diverse yet overlapping art worlds, Smith offers a behind-the-scenes introduction to the institutions, the personalities, the biennials, and of course the works that together are defining the contemporary. The resulting map of where art is now illuminates not only where it has been but also where it is going.

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