Hot Topic Alert: Art Theory by Artists

October 22, 2009 · Print This Article

There’s a great discussion going on right now at Edward Winkleman’s blog inspired by Winkleman’s post Thinking While Making Things, which was in turn inspired by an interview with Robert Storr conducted by The Art Newspaper, and an article written for Proximity by artist and frequent BaS contributor Mark Staff Brandl titled Artists Write: Thinking While Making Things. The discussion on Winkleman’s blog revolves around the ways that artists can/should/have engage(d) theory in their work and writing, the different forms that “theory” may take when it comes to artistic practice, and further on from there. Go check it out and add your voice to the discussion.

And on a side note, I have a small request of my own for current or former MFA students and/or art history graduate students, along with their professors and teachers: I’m trying to break down what often seem to be monolithic notions of what “Theory” constitutes nowadays by looking at it from more a text-specific level. I’m especially interested in what strains of “Theory” are being taught to younger artists who are engaged with / emerging from art programs TODAY (rather than, you know, 20 years ago, which was arguably when deconstructionist/ post-structuralist / psychoanalytic / postmodern / cultural studies-driven, capital ‘T’ Theory was in its heyday and held greatest sway). Are there any new Theories out there that I should be aware of (she said, tongue planted firmly in cheek)? What are you proverbial kids reading today? It can’t be the same shit I was reading twenty years ago…can it? Let me know what your profs are assigning or recommending (links to full-on syllabi are welcome!), and which authors and theoretical texts you’re talking about with your friends and colleagues. I want to try and map out, in painfully literal fashion, just what it is we’re talking about when we talk about Theory.

Thanks. Now, go check out the discussion over at Mr. Winkleman’s house (and please make sure to restrict any comments here to the specific topic I put forth above…I don’t think it’s cool to siphon off discussion from another blogger’s post).

4 thoughts on “Hot Topic Alert: Art Theory by Artists”

  1. R. Szott says:

    In my informal survey of syllabi and conversation with current and recent grad students, I have found that much of the “shit” you were reading is still being taught. Some (T)heorists that have been added to the pile are Rancière, Badiou, Agamben, Hardt and Negri, Bourriaud, Bishop, Groys, Žižek, Virno, Lazzarato, etc. The infatuation with the “continental” set continues although Grant Kester gets some love among the public/dialogical/relational/littoral/social art folks.

  2. Thanks CI! That title “Thinking While making Things,” though, comes entirely from me. The idea of a column of practicing artists writing theoretically for Edmar and Co. (Thanks guys!) came to me as I was reading and discussing on a thread at Ed’s blog titled “The Robert Smithson of Our Time : Open Thread”.

  3. Yeah, it is pretty much the same ole same ole. ever since the Octoberist-oriented Decons became the academy, they are, well, academicians. Oppressive ones. Alternative options are rampant and exciting in philosophy, gognitive science and elsewhere, but neither art nor lit.

  4. Jason Foumberg says:

    last month’s Frieze magazine is all about this topic.

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