What does a curator need to know to think about engaged, critical painting (both figurative and abstract) being made today? What do they need to know about the gallery system as a ground for painting, and what are the alternatives to that kind of ground? How to read the art-history of painting away from a genealogy of mastery without collapsing the referential landscape so important to contemporary painters? What kinds of decisions are open to a curator who wants complicate reductive, purely formal encounters with painting? How can studio visits, curatorial writing, wall-labels, printed materials, and public programming by used to expand the context for (and the time spent with) this work?
As this was a practicum course, the semester divided between readings and class discussion, site visits to galleries and museums in New York City, and the hands-on work of putting together an exhibition of New-York based contemporary painters. The syllabus tried to balance between art history and criticism, analyses of painting's framing conventions, and relevant curatorial theory.
The artists for the final exhibition were chosen at the outset: Wilder Alison, Aurora Andrews, Marissa Bluestone, Al Freeman, Marley Freeman, Sophy Naess, Anibal Padrino and Jonathan Van Dyke agreed to participate at my invitation. Each artist was paired with a team of students for the entire semester. This team worked largely independently of the class, conducting an initial studio visit, presenting their artist's work to the class, selecting work for the class exhibition, writing a text on the artists' work, submitting a wall-label about their artist's work, and participating in installation and de-installation of this work.
Syntagma was the fourth version of curatorial practicum I taught at Eugene Lang between 2014 and 2016. This series of classes is the initial phased of a project to flesh out the stakes of critical curatorial pedagogy for undergraduates. You can see a lecture at Hordaland Kunstsenter on some the conclusions drawn from the work in video documentation here.
If you find this list useful, get in touch and tell me what you would edit or found lacking: firstnamelastname[at]gmail
Kazuo Ishiguro, An Artist of the Floating World (New York: Vintage Books, 1989)
Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” Arts Yearbook 8 (1965): 74-82, repr. in Donald Judd, Complete Writings 1959-1975 (Halifax and New York: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and New York University Press, 1975), 181-189
Bruce Glaser, “Questions to Stella and Judd” (1964/66), in Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Gregory Battcock (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 148-164
Allan Kaprow, "The Legacy of Jackson Pollock (1958)"
Harold Rosenberg, “American Action Painting”
Amy Sillman, "Ab-Ex and Disco Balls: In Defense of Abstract Expressionism II," in Artforum, Summer 2011
Agnes Martin, and Dieter Schwarz. Agnes Martin: Writings = Schriften. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2005
Yve-Alain Bois and Thomas Repensek, “Ryman's Tact,” October, Vol. 19 (Winter, 1981), pp. 93-104
Sabine Marschall, “Sites of Identity and Resistance: Urban Community Murals and Rural Wall Decoration in South,” African Arts, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 40-53+91-92
John Pfeffer, “Abstraction and Community,” in Art and the End of Apartheid (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 2009), 129 - 171
Ian Berry, Lauren Haynes, and Alma Thomas. Alma Thomas. (New York, NY : Studio Museum in Harlem, 2016)
Kerry J Marshall, Helen A. Molesworth, Ian Alteveer, Dieter Roelstraete, and Lanka Tattersall. Kerry James Marshall: Mastry. (Chicago : Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 2016)
Leah Dickerman, Elsa Smithgall, Elizabeth Alexander, Rita Dove, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jodi Roberts, Patricia S. Jones, Natasha D. Trethewey, Clief-Stefanon L. Van, Crystal Williams, Kevin Young, and Jacob Lawrence. Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. (Washington, D.C. : The Phillips Collection, 2015)
Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space
Simon Sheik, “Positively White Cube Revisited,” e-flux Journal, on-line
Harald Szeeman, “How Does An Exhibition Come Into Being?” in Christian Rattemeyer, and W A. L. Beeren, Exhibiting the New Art: 'op Losse Schroeven' and 'when Attitudes Become Form' 1969 (London: Afterall, 2010)
Maria Lind, “Learning From Art and Artists” in Maria Lind, Brian K. Wood, and Beatrice von Bismarck, Selected Maria Lind Writing (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010)
Lynne Cook, “In Lieu of Higher Ground,” in ed. Paula Marincola, What Makes a Great Exhibition? (Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, 2006), pp. 154 – 167
Ingrid Schaffner, “Wall Text,” in ed. Paula Marincola, What Makes a Great Exhibition? (Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, 2006), pp. 154 – 167
Jeffrey Kipnis, “Who’s afraid of gift-wrapped kazoos? Dedicated to David Whitney,” in in ed. Paula Marincola, What Makes a Great Exhibition? (Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, 2006), pp. 94 – 106
Orit Gat, “Could Reading Be Looking?” in Journal #72 - April 2016