Weekend Reads

The Global Empire of Pop Art, A Reboot of "Civilization," & More

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The Global Empire of Pop Art, A Reboot of "Civilization," & More
Pop art is not just a U.S. phenomenon, you know.

The Pop Heard Round the World Randy Kennedy of the New York Times gives us an important primer on two upcoming exhibitions at the Walker Art Center and Tate Modern, both focusing on unknown ‘60s Pop art, much of it from beyond the United States. These little-known artists have gone largely unheralded for decades, excluded from the canon as a result of geography, gender, and general ignorance. In the words of Rosalyn Drexler, friend to such luminaries as George Segal and Claes Oldenburg: “For so much of a movement to be kind of hidden in this way is pretty depressing to me.” We agree, and hope these new exhibitions will help balance the history books. (New York Times)

"This is Neocolonial Discourse" — Mostafa Heddaya writes on the troubled history of Iraq’s Venice Biennale pavilion, which has appeared in five very different iterations since 1979. The history of Middle Eastern modernism and subsequent engagement with Western art history is fascinating and largely unappreciated in addition to bearing the scars of a century of violence and imperialism, and Heddaya treats the subject of this year’s pavilion with proper care by allowing both proponents and detractors to speak for themselves. (Blouin ArtInfo)

The History of Art, From the Start, Again – The news that the BBC is going to create a remake of the great humanist scholar Kenneth Clark’s absolutely sensational Civilization documentary series about the entire stretch of art history should make anyone’s intellectual pleasure centers go ahum—seriously, if you haven’t seen the original, see it now—and the critic Jonathan Jones, a consultant on the series, writes about wrestling with the challenges of following in the footsteps of such a lively and intensely educated patrician wit. (Guardian)

Bad, Bad Ads— M.H. Miller profiles Hank Willis Thomas for ArtNews, focusing on the American artist’s fascination and discomfort with advertising images, particularly those that operate through racial or gendered stereotypes (that is, essentially all ads we’ve seen for the past century or so). Thomas sums up the ad industry’s obsession with pigeonholing simply: “what advertising is fueled by is prejudice.” You’ll never look at a Reebok ad the same way again. (ArtNews)

"We Handle Vulnerability like Philosophy" — Leslie Jamison delivers a poignant reading of the writings of Chris Kraus, the artist, filmmaker, and author best known for her 1997 novel I Love Dick and her earlier involvement with the burgeoning art scene of 1970s New York. Jamison delves into the subtleties of Kraus’s fiction, which both authors claim has been misread as “confessional” rather than “universal” literature because, as Kraus writes, “women have been denied all access to the a-personal.” (The New Yorker)

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