What’s so shocking about contemporary art?

Zoe Strauss, "Mattress Flip", 2001. Image: pdnphotooftheday.com

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Ten Years…… Right Between the Eyes: Zoe Strauss at the Philadelphia Museum

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Ten Years…… Right Between the Eyes: Zoe Strauss at the Philadelphia Museum

Every once in a blue moon you get surprised by an exhibit that takes your breath away. Kiki Smith did it to me in 2006 and last year Glenn Ligon …

Robert Adams, "Adams County, Colorado," 1973  Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Ambiguity and Teaching with the Photography Robert Adams

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Ambiguity and Teaching with the Photography Robert Adams

Teaching with and sharing Robert Adams’ photography with students can allow for a broader understanding of what makes a great picture.

Janine Antoni, "Lick and Lather" (detail), 1993

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Talking with Janine Antoni and Getting Set for NAEA: Part One

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Talking with Janine Antoni and Getting Set for NAEA: Part One

This week’s column features a brand, new interview with Janine Antoni in advance of her upcoming keynote address and workshop at the National Art Education Association’s annual conference on March 1st here in New York City.

Sener Ozmen

Turkish and Other Delights

Turkish and Other Delights | Şener Özmen

Turkish and Other Delights

Turkish and Other Delights | Şener Özmen

While preparing to travel to Diyarbakır, the largest city in southeastern Turkey, I discovered that telling Turkish people who live outside of that region that you’re going to visit Diyarbakır …

William Kentridge, "Felix in Exile," 1994. Production stills; 35mm animated film transferred to video. Copyright and courtesy of William Kentridge.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Reflecting on Teaching with William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Reflecting on Teaching with William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible

This past Saturday I sat down with a small group of wonderful teachers at the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Media Arts Lab for the second part of a two-part workshop …

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Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Contemporary Art: The First Three Years

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Contemporary Art: The First Three Years

This week Teaching with Contemporary Art here on the blog turns 3. Frankly, I can’t believe that I’ve been writing this column for three years. At the same time, it …

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Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment | Los Angeles: Nice Meeting You Again and Again

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment | Los Angeles: Nice Meeting You Again and Again

This week began with Dean Rochelle Steiner of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts signing off on my thesis and me paying the publishing and binding fee. My thesis …

Those were the days.... Image: zeegees.ca

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Absolutely Uncertain

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Absolutely Uncertain

Since you can’t swing a cat without hitting a picture of Charlie Sheen at this point, I thought I’d choose a classic for today’s column. I mean, Art21 shouldn’t be …

biriken (left: Melis Tezkan, right: Okan Urun). Photo by Beatriz Toledo. Courtesy of biriken.

Turkish and Other Delights

Turkish and Other Delights | biriken

Turkish and Other Delights

Turkish and Other Delights | biriken

biriken is the five year old interdisciplinary, collaborative project of Melis Tezkan and Okan Urun. Working at the intersection of performance art, installation art, and traditional theater practice, Tezkan and …

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Courtesy Patti Smith Archive.

Looking at Los Angeles

Looking at Los Angeles: Owning Robert Mapplethorpe

Looking at Los Angeles

Looking at Los Angeles: Owning Robert Mapplethorpe

  “I don’t know why my pictures come out looking so good,” photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once told his brother. “I just don’t get it.” He had that innate knack for …

Katarzyna Kozyra, "Olimpia," detail, 1996. Deposit of the National Museum in Cracow. Courtesy Zachęta National Gallery of Art.

Dissecting the Social Self: A [Wo]Man, an Animal, and an Ambiguous “I.”

Dissecting the Social Self: A [Wo]Man, an Animal, and an Ambiguous “I.”

At the turn of December and January, the myriad summaries and best-of lists of the past year I browse through coincide with a more personal check-up. There is no better …

Bill O’Leary for the Washington Post, protest on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery, December 2010. Courtesy of the Washington Post.

Visibility, Potency and Meaning: Making Sense of Art at the Crosshairs

Visibility, Potency and Meaning: Making Sense of Art at the Crosshairs

Since I made my first appearance on the Art21 blog about six weeks ago, commenting on the now-infamous censoring of David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly at the …

Richard Nicholson, "Gordon Bishop Associates, Paddington Street," 2006

Letter from London

Letter from London | Porn, Porn Everywhere: Analog at Riflemaker Gallery.

Letter from London

Letter from London | Porn, Porn Everywhere: Analog at Riflemaker Gallery.

In this second and last guest blog post, Kerim Aytac fills in for our hero Ben Street this month. — Ed. Looking at Richard Nicholson’s elegiac contribution to the Analog …

Student art: acrylic and ink on paper

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Working with Violent Images

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Working with Violent Images

Only a few days ago I was all set to write a post that highlighted the plight of Curtis Acosta, an Arizona teacher who finds himself in the position of …

David Wojnarowicz, "Night Train Dream" 1983  P.P.O.W Gallery

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with David Wojnarowicz (and Not Teaching with the Smithsonian)

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with David Wojnarowicz (and Not Teaching with the Smithsonian)

In light of the recent debacle at the Smithsonian involving the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly, I thought it might make sense to suggest some ways …

Itlian President Giorgia Napolitano at Milan's La Scala Opera House on December 7, 2010.

Looking at Los Angeles

Looking at Los Angeles: Senators with No Talent

Looking at Los Angeles

Looking at Los Angeles: Senators with No Talent

I woke up Wednesday morning to news of fracas at the opera. The La Scala opera house in Milan had just hosted its annual gala, the sort of event heads …

David Wojnarowicz, "Untitled (Face in Dirt)," 1990. Silver print, 28.5 x 28.5 inches. Courtesy P.P.O.W.

“I am the invisible being”: The Smithsonian, Wojnarowicz, and the Othering of AIDS

“I am the invisible being”: The Smithsonian, Wojnarowicz, and the Othering of AIDS

The decision of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, G. Wayne Clough, to pull David Wojnarowicz’s video, The Fire in My Belly, from the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait …

Robert Mapplethorpe, "Self Portrait," 1975

Flash Points

“Imperfect Moments: Mapplethorpe & Censorship Twenty Years Later” at ICA in Philadelphia

Flash Points

“Imperfect Moments: Mapplethorpe & Censorship Twenty Years Later” at ICA in Philadelphia

Last week, people from far and wide gathered for a special conference titled “Imperfect Moments: Mapplethorpe and Censorship Twenty Years Later,” which was co-presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art …

Looking eternity in the eye

Flash Points

The shock of the unseen.

Flash Points

The shock of the unseen.

“Looking eternity in the eye.” (All photos by Luodanli.) Almost four years ago, in the course of my web wanderings, I stumbled on the photographs of an Army serviceman  who …

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Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Interview with Eleanor Antin Part 2

Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Interview with Eleanor Antin Part 2

 Following is the second part of my conversation with Eleanor Antin, continued from Part 1 yesterday… JF: One thing that has been important in my own work with students and …

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Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Myths, metaphors, and more: Interview with Eleanor Antin, Part 1

Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Myths, metaphors, and more: Interview with Eleanor Antin, Part 1

Last month I had the good fortune to speak with Eleanor Antin (Season 2) in a series of lively and engaging emails that included her thoughts on preparing for exhibitions, …

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Flash Points

Teaching with controversial subject matter

Flash Points

Teaching with controversial subject matter

On the topic of art and controversy, I thought I’d share a teaching-related story of my own. Previously to working at Art21, I was an associate educator at the New …

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Flash Points

Using contemporary art to help open conversations

Flash Points

Using contemporary art to help open conversations

What’s the place of contemporary art in schools?  What’s the place of “controversial” contemporary art in schools? And what’s our responsibility as teachers? The very best contemporary art speaks a …

30 Ways to Die of Electrocution

Flash Points

Found Art: 10 Ways to Die of Electric Shock

Flash Points

Found Art: 10 Ways to Die of Electric Shock

Disaffected hipster meets his maker. All images courtesy of Bre Pettis. Since we’re talking “shock” here at Art21, I decided to plug the word into Flickr to see what it’d …

White Magic and Xanadu, Maya Lujan, Wight Biennial Installation shot, 2008

Flash Points

Crying Wolf

Flash Points

Crying Wolf

Here’s one of the biggest problem with controversy in contemporary art: once it sparks, people stop really looking. I didn’t see UCLA’s Wight Biennial this year. LA Times critic Christopher …

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Flash Points

Difficulty, Part 2: Bad Feelings

Flash Points

Difficulty, Part 2: Bad Feelings

Chris Ofili, Holy Virgin Mary (1996) I started thinking about the word “difficulty” in relation to controversial art because the things in art which grab me, even shock me, rarely …

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Flash Points

Difficulty, Part 1: Deceptive Forms of Simplicity

Flash Points

Difficulty, Part 1: Deceptive Forms of Simplicity

What if, instead of talking about what makes an artwork controversial, we focused on what makes an artwork difficult? Difficulty has long functioned as a keyword in poetics and music …

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Flash Points

I wanna shock.

Flash Points

I wanna shock.

Dirt Mansion, an installation by Judith Supine at English Kills Gallery in Brooklyn, April, 2008. (Photo by C-M.) In a move that undoubtedly goes against somebody’s better judgment, the respectable …

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Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Controversial Material: “Bodies”

Flash Points

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Controversial Material: “Bodies”

Illustration by Natasha Russel, Senior, Nyack High School Just a few weeks ago, a colleague and I had the opportunity to take three Advanced Placement Studio Art classes to see …

Philippe Perreno, "Marquee" (2008). Courtesy Guggenheim.

Flash Points

Top Billing at the Guggenheim

Flash Points

Top Billing at the Guggenheim

I’ve been reading a few reviews of the Guggenheim’s anyspacewhatsoever exhibition recently, including Merrily Kerr‘s insightful take a few days ago. Coupled with the launch of Flash Points and its …

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Flash Points

Sweet Jesus! Shock, awe, and the mundane

Flash Points

Sweet Jesus! Shock, awe, and the mundane

As readers’ comments suggest in the introductory post of Flash Points, contemporary art that engages religion is a hotbed for controversy. James Horn remarks, “I have seen pictures which have …

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Flash Points

Blood Work & ‘Art Criminals’

Flash Points

Blood Work & ‘Art Criminals’

I am not sure I would call artists like Jeff Koons, Vanessa Beecroft, Santiago Sierra, or even Kara Walker all that “controversial.” These artists are actually quite popular with curators. …

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Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Fifteenth Time Leckey!

Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Fifteenth Time Leckey!

On Monday night, the winner of this year’s Turner Prize was announced—the fifteenth since its inception in 1984. The prize itself has become synonymous with a sort of willful controversy, …

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Flash Points

Self-consciousness around controversial issues

Flash Points

Self-consciousness around controversial issues

Jenny Holzer, WHITE, 2006. Nichia white LED’s mounted on PCB with aluminum housing, 192 1/4 x 216 5/8 x 5 3/8 inches. Installation view: Cheim & Read, New York. © …

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Flash Points

Introducing Flash Points: Controversy & Contemporary Art

Flash Points

Introducing Flash Points: Controversy & Contemporary Art

FLASH POINTS is a monthly conversational series that focuses on issues relevant to the state of the art world at large, contemporary art education, and issues artists face today. You …