Preachy and polemical essays trace 25 years of alternative public
art, addressing an exciting topic with airless earnestness. Editor
Lacy is a conceptual and performance artist, a founding member in
the 1970s of the West Coast's Feminist Studio Workshop, and
currently dean of fine arts at the California College of Arts and
Crafts. Her introduction defines "new genre art," now an
established movement of artists who engage in installations in
public spaces, collective group endeavors, and activist actions and
stand in opposition to what they see as the elitist traditions of
museums, galleries, and grandiose public statuary. Essays by a bevy
of contributors follow. Mary Jane Jacob, an independent curator,
struggles over the medium's attempts to embrace a nonexclusive
public. Critic Patricia C. Phillips tries to tackle public art's
"challenge to modernism," as well as its failures as a marginalized
genre. More cogent are offerings from well-known art writers Suzi
Gablik, on the artist's role in society, and Lucy R. Lippard, on
the definition of public art; both manage to reach concrete
conclusions. Lighter, and most entertaining, is artist Allan
Kaprow's firstperson account of recruiting inner-city kids for a
collaborative project documenting bathroom graffiti in Berkeley,
Calif., in the late 1960s. Most helpful to general readers and
students will be the book's second half, an alphabetized compendium
of both well and lesser-known works of some 90 artists and
collective groups assembled by Susan Steinman (Art/California State
Univ., Hayward). Described here: Joseph Beuys's 1974 three-day
cohabitation of a New York gallery space with a live coyote; Jerri
Allyn's activist "40 Woman All-Waitress Marching Band" from L.A. in
the 1970s; and New York City's Guerrilla Girls, who raised the art
world's consciousness in the 1980s. Essays laden with the verbal
clunkiness of the politically correct art cartel, joined by a more
useful index of artists and projects. (Kirkus Reviews)
Literary Nonfiction. Art History, Theory & Criticism. "In this
wonderfully bold and speculative anthology of writings, artists and
critics offer a highly persuasive set of argument and pleas for
imaginative, socially responsible, and socially responsive public
art.... This book will prove as valuable to art and cultural
historians and critics as it will be to public policy makers,
students and a diverse public audience"--Moira Roth, Mills College.
"Energized by ideas and experiences in performance art, community
art, installation, social history, and urban planning, artists are
creating and invigorating new public art that imbues daily life
with meaning and significance"--Richard Andrews, University of
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