Named one of The Art Book’s Best Books of the Decade (March 2003).
Some critics view the postwar avant-garde as the empty recycling of forms and strategies from the first two decades of the twentieth century. Others view it, more positively, as a new articulation of the specific conditions of cultural production in the postwar period. Benjamin Buchloh, one of the most insightful art critics and theoreticians of recent decades, argues for a dialectical approach to these positions.
This collection contains eighteen essays written by Buchloh over the last twenty years. Each looks at a single artist within the framework of specific theoretical and historical questions. The art movements covered include Nouveau Rei¨isme in France (Arman, Yves Klein, Jacques de la Villegle©¨ art in postwar Germany (Joseph Beuys, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter), American Fluxus and pop art (Robert Watts and Andy Warhol), minimalism and postminimal art (Michael Asher and Richard Serra), and European and American conceptual art (Daniel Buren, Dan Graham). Buchloh addresses some artists in terms of their oppositional approaches to language and painting, for example, Nancy Spero and Lawrence Weiner. About others, he asks more general questions concerning the development of models of institutional critique (Hans Haacke) and the theorization of the museum (Marcel Broodthaers); or he addresses the formation of historical memory in postconceptual art (James Coleman).
One of the book’s strengths is its systematic, interconnected account of the key issues of American and European artistic practice during two decades of postwar art. Another is Buchlohs method, which integrates formalist and socio-historical approaches specific to each subject.