Shared Flashcard Set


Long Answer Quetions Contemporary Art Now study sheet
long answer quetions form study sheet
Art History
Undergraduate 4

Additional Art History Flashcards





What is 'Cartesian dualism'? How did performance art and body art challenge our understanding of the subject? Refer to specific examples to support your answer.


The central claim of Cartesian dualism is that the immaterial mind and the material body causally interact. Mental events cause physical events, and vice versa. This leads to the most substantial claim AGAINST Cartesian dualism. How can an immaterial mind cause anything in a material body, and vice versa? This is called the "problem of interactionism."

examples of performace art and body art

Chris Burden during the performance of his 1974 piece Trans-fixed where he was nailed to the back of a Volkswagen

Vito Acconci  performed  'Following Piece', in which he followed randomly chosen New Yorkers.


Marina Abramovic performed ‘Rhythm O’ in 1974. In the piece, the audience was given instructions to use on Abramovic's body an array of 72 provided instruments of pain and pleasure, including knives, feathers, and a loaded pistol. Audience members cut her, pressed thorns into her belly, put lipstick on her, and removed her clothes. The performance ended after six hours when someone held the loaded gun up to Abramovic's head and a scuffle broke out.

How did artistic forms of institutional critique shift the definition of 'site-spacific' artwork? Refer to Miwon Kwon's argument and to two works of art to support your answer.

Institutional Critique is an artistic term meant as a commentary of the various institutions and assumed normalities of art and/or a radical disarticulation of the institution of art (radical is linguistically understood in its relation to radix which means to get to the root of something). For instance, assumptions about the supposed aesthetic autonomy or neutrality of painting and sculpture are often explored as a subject in the field of art, and are then historically and socially mapped out (i.e., ethnographically and or archaeologically) as discursive formations, then (re)framed within the context of the museum itself. As such, it seeks to make visible the historically and socially constructed boundaries between inside and outside, public and private. Institutional critique is often critical of how of the distinctions of taste are not separate from aesthetic judgement, and that taste is an institutionally cultivated sensibility.


Miwon Kwon's argument

This is from the press release of Culture in Action. "Open to the public throughout summer '93, Culture in Action established a new vocabulary within the genre of urban oriented sculpture exhibitions. Culture in Action tested the territory of public interaction and participation, the role of the artist as an active social force, artist-driven educational programming as an essential part of the artwork, and projects that existed over an extended period of time, not just as spectator oriented objects for brief viewing." Explicitly challenging the orthodoxies of public art, which traditionally has mirrored mainstream art world habits, insofar as it elevates the artist as the sole creative force, driven by an object oriented conception of art work, it constructs the audience as a group of passive, often undereducated, spectators and passers by. Against this kind of mainstream understanding, the emphasis of Culture in Action was to test a different model of public art that would be defined by audience participation, non-object oriented artistic production and labor, art as educational programming or, conversely, education as art and artist as an active social agent, not as an isolated or detached aesthetic specialist.

(1) art in public places, typically a modernist abstract sculpture placed outdoors to "decorate" or "enrich" urban spaces, especially plaza areas fronting federal buildings or corporate office towers;
(2) art as public spaces, less object-oriented and more site-conscious art that sought greater integration between art, architecture, and the landscape through artists' collaboration with members of the urban managerial class (such as architects, landscape architects, city planners, urban designers, and city administrators), in the designing of permanent urban (re)development projects such as parks, plazas, buildings, promenades, neighborhoods, etc.; and more recently,
(3) art in the public interest (or "new genre public art"), often temporary city-based programs focusing on social issues rather than the built environment that involve collaborations with marginalized social groups (rather than design professionals), such as the homeless, battered women, urban youths, AIDS patients, prisoners, and which strives toward the development of politically-conscious community events or programs.

'site-spacific' works

Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, 1981

The sculpture was a solid, unfinished plate of COR-TEN steel, 120 feet long (36.6 meters), 12 feet high (3.66 meters), and 2.5 inches thick. As its name suggests, it was slightly tilted. Serra said of the design, "The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement. Step by step the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes."

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate, 2004

Nicknamed "The Bean" because of its legume-like shape, its exterior consists of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates. It is 33 feet by 66 feet by 42 feet (10 m × 20 m × 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (99.8 t; 98.2 long tons).

Kapoor often speaks of removing both the signature of the artist from his works as well as any traces of their fabrication.For him, removing all the seams from Cloud Gate was necessary in order to make the sculpture seem as though it was "perfect" and ready-made. These effects increase the viewer's fascination with it and makes them wonder what it is and where it came from.



According to Frederic Jameson, what is the relation between late capitalism and postmodern aesthetics? explain with reference to two art works.

Frederic Jameson viewed the postmodern "skepticism towards metanarratives" as a "mode of experience" stemming from the conditions of intellectual labor imposed by the late capitalist mode of production.Postmodernists claimed that the complex differentiation between "spheres" or fields of life (such as the political, the social, the cultural, the commercial, etc.) and between distinct classes and rôles within each field, had been overcome by the crisis of foundationalism and the consequent relativization of truth-claims. Jameson argued, against this, that these phenomena had or could have been understood successfully within a modernist framework; postmodern failure to achieve this understanding implied an abrupt break in the dialectical refinement of thought.

   postmodernity is characterized by pastiche and a crisis in historicity. Jameson argued that parody (which requires a moral judgment or comparison with societal norms) was replaced by pastiche (collage and other forms of juxtaposition without a normative grounding). Relatedly, Jameson argued that the postmodern era suffers from a crisis in historicity: "there no longer does seem to be any organic relationship between the American history we learn from schoolbooks and the lived experience of the current, multinational, high-rise, stagflated city of the newspapers and of our own everyday life"

Reference art work

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #2, 1977

reproduction of the image as in a film to saport metanarative.

Gerhard Richter, 18 October, 1977, 1988

In a 1988 series of fifteen ambiguous photo paintings entitled October 18, 1977 he depicted four members of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German left-wing terrorist organization. These paintings were created from black-and-white newspaper and police photos. Three RAF members were found dead in their prison cells on October 18, 1977, and the cause of their deaths was the focus of widespread controversy.



What is the difference between the 'Primitivism' and the 'Magiciens de la Terre' exhibits? How did each view the relationship between Western and non-Western art?

In 1989, in the wake of the infamous “Primitivism” show at MOMA, curator Jean-Hubert Martin set out to create a show that counteracted ethnocentric practices within the contemporary art world as a replacement for the format of the traditional Paris Biennial. (Buchloh 158) This exhibition sought to correct the problem of “one hundred percent of exhibitions ignoring 80 percent of the earth.” He did this in his show, Magiciens de la Terre, exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle at the Parc de la Villette.

Martin’s show worked to confront problems presented by several exhibitions that perpetuated a colonialist mentality, the most recent being the aforementioned show, “Primitivism” in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Many critics condemned “Primitivism”, as it fell into a similar Modernist trap of providing only a pure aesthetization of the work of native cultures. “Primitivism” stated that it was only interested in displaying tribal works that influenced Modern artists and studying how this phenomenon functioned within the Modernist discourse. Many of the tribal works were presented vis-à-vis Modernist works when little or no historical evidence of these works drawing inspiration from specific “primitive” works or, in some cases, even a “primitive” idiom. (Varnedoe 13)

In addition to the “Primitivism” show, Magiciens de la Terre worked with the 1931 show, L’Exposition Coloniale as a counter-reference point. This exhibition was organized in a typical colonial fashion, to show the economic and moral superiority of the French country, and the products of the grateful colonized. The souvenir medal from the exhibition speaks volumes. The bas-relief features a Western woman on the right (A personification of France with references to allegorical representations of Liberty, Truth, or Wisdom) outstretching her arm to gently comfort and protect her smiling representations of ethnic stereotypes. This exhibition is covered within the Magiciens catalog, where this show’s colonialist ideology is explained. This show served as a definition of what Magiciens was not.

Although Magiciens served to counteract the ideology expressed in the two shows, Magiciens was also meant to resolve some long-standing problems of the format of the Paris Biennial. In years past, the French curatorial team would select the countries to be exhibited, and representatives from the respective countries would select artists that they deemed the greatest artistic talents of their nation. This method failed as many of the non-Western artists selected were second-rate practitioners (in style and content) of artistic movements that originated in the West. It was felt that these artists were not exemplary of the diversity of human cultures, and their work only strengthened Western hegemony.

With the failings of these previous shows in mind, Martin organized Magiciens by selecting one hundred artists from around the world: fifty from the so-called “centers” of the world (the United States and Western Europe) and fifty from the “margins” (Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Australia). No specific criteria were set up for the selection of the individual works in the show as long as this numerical ratio was maintained. When selecting artists from outside the Western tradition, the curator claimed to choose artists according to their artworks’ “visual and sensual experiences.” Martin explains:

I want to play the role of someone who uses artistic intuition alone to select objects which come from totally different cultures, … But obviously, I also want to incorporate into that process the critical thinking which contemporary anthropology provides on the problem of ethnocentrism, the relativity of culture, and intercultural relations. (Buchloh 122-133)

In an interview with Benjamin H. D. Buchloh he acknowledged this method had inherent flaws, but also noted that any methodological framework for the selection of works will make similar mistakes. Martin felt that the inclusion of the fifty non-Western artists would begin to facilitate a change starts de-centering notions of an artistic center(s) within the Western tradition of art practice.

Supporting users have an ad free experience!