Art & Artifact: The Museum as Medium / Edition 2

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“Fascinating examination of the museum’s unconventional role in contemporary art....Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
This book examines one of the most important and intriguing themes in art today: the often obsessive relationship between artist and museum.
From Marcel Duchamp’s “Portable Museum” (Boîte en valise) of the early 1940s to Damien Hirst’s distinctive use of vitrine displays in the 1990s, the artists of the past seventy years have often turned their attention—both creatively and critically—to a reappraisal of the ideas and systems of classification traditionally associated with curatorship and display.
The works included here, accompanied by quotations from the writings of individual artists, offer a wide-ranging coverage of projects by established and emerging figures alike, including Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Hans Haacke, Donald Judd, Olafur Eliasson, and Takashi Murakami. The book has been updated to include recent projects that make use of grand architectural spaces within the museum, as well as those that explore off-site locations and the internet.

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Editorial Reviews

The Art Book
“An increasingly rare type of art publication: one that is focused primarily on images, and on art… a rewarding exercise in the visual.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“The many illustrations are a fascinating gallery of improbable projects.”
“A gratifying survey of how artists experiment with the places where art is shown.”
Denver Post
“Explores how museum installations can affect the very nature and message of contemporary art.”
Museum News
“Amply illustrated… ­like a museum exhibit.”
Library Journal
Curator of the Contemporary Arts & Cultures Program at the British Museum, Putnam explores six distinct but interrelated themes in this fascinating examination of the museum's unconventional role in contemporary art. The book provides a survey of the way museums and their collections have been portrayed and manipulated by contemporary artists and the import this has for the museum's role as cultural interpreter. Putnam first determines museum iconography, the aura it gives exhibited objects, and its sometimes paradoxical use to elevate the mundane or grotesque. He ultimately reveals that, in the postmodern era, artists have made museums less a site for the passive consumption of ostensibly objective, hierarchical values and more an open forum, stimulating inquiry, discourse, and even controversy. The book closes with an exploration of what the future holds for the museum and how contemporary art is helping to determine its next incarnation. Images of installations, the majority in full color, appear on nearly every page and are accompanied by extensive captions explaining the works' significance and how each one relates to the theme it illustrates. Highly recommended for collections focusing on museology, culture studies, and contemporary art. Savannah Schroll, Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500288351
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James Putnam has been a Visiting Scholar in Museum Studies at New York University and Curator of the Contemporary Arts and Cultures Program at the British Museum.

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