THE HISTORY OF CONTEMPORARY ART: PARADOXES AND ANTINOMIES

Terry Smith

Thursday 7 August 2008 6pm
The University of Queensland Art Museum

There is a widespread and growing sense that many significant – perhaps even epochal – changes are occurring in the world today, and that certain kinds of contemporary art seem closely connected with these changes whereas other art seems concerned above all with itself. This lecture will explore the idea that the concept of ‘contemporaneity’ is more useful than ideas of the ‘modern’ (including the postmodern) if we are to understand these global changes accurately. By surveying the different kinds of art being made in various parts of the world today, it will claim that we can grasp more about art’s nature, more about how it emerges from its generative conditions, and more about how it relates to its histories by taking seriously the concept of the ‘contemporary’ – by treating it according its actual depth and ancient multiplicity of meaning, that is, historically. The contemporaneity of contemporary art is, perhaps for the first time, fundamental to art today. What will be its impact on art to come?

Terry Smith, FAHA, CIHA, is Andrew W Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney. He was a member of the Art & Language group (New York) and a founder of Union Media Services (Sydney). His most recent books are The Architecture of aftermath (University of Chicago Press, 2006), Contemporary art + philanthropy (Sydney: University of New South Wales for the Sherman Foundation, 2007), and Antinomies of art and culture: modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity, edited with Nancy Condee and Okwui Enwezor (Duke University Press, 2008).


 

Terry Smith