Concepts for art history in a changing world

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In an article written in 2002 by the art historian T J Clark he confronted his own past with a self-recognition that he had failed to “get right” certain works of art that were compellingly “contemporaneous” in his earlier years . This was not a mere personal reflection but something of a commentary on certain trajectories of art historical work. For Clark then, the work of the 1960’s with Warhol as an example could only be empty because it came to represent a failed project of art in modernity. In so far as art in modernism was caught between a fine line of critiques of spectacle and being part of, absorbed into the spectacle itself, it had nowhere else to go. This view with which Clark battled throughout his connection with the Situationists and informed to the point of “haunting” his books such as “The Painting of Modern Life Paris in the Art of Manet and his followers” and “Farewell to an Idea” appears to have infected more recent appraisals of contemporary art, commentators upon which cannot seem to shake off the aspirations of modernism. As Steve Edwards suggests in his recent review of Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin Buchloh Art since 1900: Modernism, Anti-Modernism, Postmodernism “These writers seem more and more to confuse their own lack of sympathy for contemporary art with the capitalist colonisation of the avant-garde. They just don’t like what the “young ones” are doing…” I am interested in what lays behind this difficulty and whether a different approach to the object of art is required, one that offers a way beyond the modernist canon and the philosophy, which ultimately underpins art historical discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe European mind: narrative and identity, Volume 2
EditorsH. Frendo
Place of PublicationMalta
PublisherMalta University Press
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978999095560
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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