January 4, 2012 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - Annual Hilla Rebay Lecture
January 4, 2012

Annual Hilla Rebay Lecture

Annual Hilla Rebay Lecture​
Tom McDonough

The Artist as Typographer
Wednesday, January 11, 6:30 pm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
5th Ave at 89th St, New York City
guggenheim.org/publicprograms

Modern typography developed in the interwar years of the 20th century as one element of the utopian project of reinventing the world, embodying a fantasy of universal legibility and literacy. After World War II, it was transformed into a tool of corporate promotion and advertising. Avant-garde and neo-avant-garde artists alike engaged in these projects, from Bauhaus design to Dada collage, and on to the work of Robert Rauschenberg and the Fluxus group. Both sides of that history seem taken up and reworked in the recent practices under scrutiny in this lecture.

Several developments laid the groundwork for the current interest in typography: the development of a critical design history during the 1980s, which placed typography within a larger cultural framework; broader shifts in culture and reading in particular, brought on by the advent of digital technologies since the 1990s; and the reassessed legacy of language-based Conceptual and post-Conceptual art practices toward a focus on the material qualities of communication.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of younger artists whose work employs typography, printed characters, or even the very institution of printing. Language has played a key role in art since the rise of Conceptual art in the early 1970s, but the current turn represents something different: it takes up not language per se, but language’s material realization and the particular histories carried within its forms. In this year’s Hilla Rebay Lecture, Tom McDonough focuses on artists and collectives whose work demonstrates how typography has become a central element of aesthetic practice, including Dexter Sinister, Shannon Ebner, Janice Kerbel, and Adam Pendleton.

The rise of the artist as typographer finds precedents in the work of Lawrence Weiner as well as Liam Gillick. But it is among artists who have emerged in the last decade that the practice is most prevalent: their work has proposed a new critical aesthetic that takes up language and its representation as a material object, heavy with social meaning.

A reception and viewing of the exhibition Maurizio Cattelan: All immediately follow the lecture.

This program is free, and there is no advance ticket registration.

The Hilla Rebay Lecture brings distinguished scholars to the Guggenheim Museum to examine significant issues in the theory, criticism, and history of art. This annual program is made possible through the generosity of The Hilla von Rebay Foundation.

For more information visit guggenheim.org/publicprograms.

Annual Hilla Rebay Lecture at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
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