“‘Since 1960’: Contemporary Art and The Stakes of Criticism” symposium

“‘Since 1960’: Contemporary Art and The Stakes of Criticism” symposium

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Ed Ruscha, Ex Libris, 2017. Lithograph. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

October 23, 2018
“‘Since 1960’: Contemporary Art and The Stakes of Criticism” symposium
October 25–26, 2018
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
20 Washington Place
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
United States
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In collaboration with the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, RI, Rhode Island School of Design is pleased to announce “‘Since 1960’: Contemporary Art and the Stakes of Criticism,” a symposium that will take place at RISD’s Chace Center on October 25–26, 2018.

Convened in honor of New Yorker writer Calvin Tompkins, who recently donated an archive of art books to the Redwood and will join the morning panel, the symposium addresses art criticism “since 1960,” the year Tomkins began writing for the magazine. In exploring the relationship of his signature mode of writing—the profile—to other types of contemporary art writing, a range of critics, curators, artists and scholars will ask: what is the place of subjectivity in contemporary art writing?  And what is at stake in staging—or erasing—the self?

On Thursday, October 25 Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at The University of Texas at Austin, will deliver the keynote lecture, “Art & Critique.” Other participants include Roberta Smith, New York Times Co-Chief Art Critic; Massimiliano Gioni, curator of the 2013 Venice Biennale and artistic director at the New Museum; Randy Kennedy, former New York Times art world reporter and head of special projects at Hauser & Wirth; Moyra Davey, artist and writer; John Miller [77 FAV], artist, writer, Barnard College professor and RISD alumnus; and Roger White, artist, writer, editor and RISD faculty.

On Friday, October 26 the symposium will feature two panels: “The Place of the Self” and “Artist-Writer.” The first panel, moderated by Leora Maltz-Leca, Theory and History of Art and Design Department Head, situates questions around the self between two contemporary pressures. On the one hand, the evacuation of the self in certain kinds of academic writing—and the performance of neutrality it stages—seems to have lost credibility. On the other hand, perhaps a confessional mode of sharing the self is equally compromised, given that it may be continuous not only with avant-garde myths of self-expression, but also with contemporary demands to perform our “self” publicly via social media. The “Artist-Writer” panel moderated by RISD’s Center for Arts & Language Director Jennifer Liese will resume these questions of self through a focus on the rich possibilities of contemporary artists who write. Departing from the notion that the artist or designer is always a (self)-critic—looking, thinking and digesting, if not always articulating, the possibilities of her work—the panel will consider the limits and possibilities of speaking the self.

To further commemorate the gift of Tomkins’ collection to the Redwood library, renowned contemporary artist Ed Ruscha has created a painting titled Ex Libris (2017) and a limited series of interpretive lithographs after it, which are on view at the Redwood until October 28, 2018. The Redwood Library and Athenaeum, founded in 1747 as the country’s first purpose-built library structure, is the nation’s earliest public neoclassical building, as well as the first art gallery in Rhode Island (1865), and a designated National Historic Landmark since 1966. Functioning today as a hybrid historic site, research center, museum and lending library, the Redwood promotes lifelong interdisciplinary learning in the humanities in the service of public education and civic engagement. The symposium is a project of the Redwood Contemporary Arts Initiative, founded in 2017.

More information on the symposium and details about registering can be found here.

This symposium has been generously funded by the VIA Art Fund, Boston as well as by a RISD Liberal Arts Research Collaboration & Event Grant. The symposium is organized by Leora Maltz-Leca (RISD, Theory and History of Art & Design).

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October 23, 2018

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