Magiciens de la Terre (1989) [French]

21 August 2016, dusan

Catalogue of an exhibition held 18 May-14 August 1989 at the Centre Pompidou and La Grande Halle-La Villette, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin with the assistance of Jan Debbaut, Mark Francis, Jean-Louis Maubant, Aline Luque, André Magnin and Jacques Soulillou.

“An exhibition loved and hated in equal measure, Martin curated the show to address the fact that there were, as he put it, “one hundred percent of exhibitions ignoring 80 percent of the earth.” He attempted to engage critically with certain aspects of neo-colonial mentality in the West, particularly a resurgent interest in ‘primitivism,’ which Martin felt aestheticized exotic cultures without destablilizing western definitions of fine art, modernism, or identity. The exhibition included works by 100 artists (50 from the so called ‘West’ and 50 from the ‘margins’), attempting to show all on equal footing. The success of this attempt is still disputed and discussed in terms of the exhibition history of the past twenty-odd years, but it remains undeniable that the exhibition enacted an important break with some of the conventions of exhibition-making and strictly defined notions of modernism. Exhibited artists included Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari, Mike Chukwukelu, Braco Dimitrijevic, Yongping Huang, Boujemaa Lakhdar, Richard Long, Sigmar Polke, Jangarh Singh Shyam, Ulay, Jeff Wall, Jimmy Wululu, etc. ” (Source)

With essays by Jean-Hubert Martin, Aline Luque, Mark Francis, André Magnin, Pierre Gaudibert, Thomas McEvilley, Homi Bhabha, Jacques Soulillou, Bernard Marcadé.

Publisher Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1989
ISBN 2858504989, 9782858504985
271 pages
via Gioni

Interview with curator (Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Art in America, 1989, EN)
Reviews: 10 French press reviews (1989), more, list of reviews (1989, 30 pp).
Analysis and commentary: Special issue of Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne (1989, FR, 101 MB, added on 2019-8-14), Special issue of Third Text (1989, EN), Thomas McEvilley (1990, EN), Cesare Poppi (engage, 2003, EN), Hal Foster et al (2004/07, EN), Daniel Soutif (2005, FR), Reesa Greenberg (Art Journal, 2005, EN), Maureen Murphy (Critique d’art, 2013, FR/EN), Pablo Lafuente (2013, EN), Annie Cohen-Solal (Stedelijk Studies, 2014, EN), Adam Jasper (AU&NZ Journal of Art, 2014, EN), Julia Friedel (C&, 2016, EN).
Short documentary (1989)
Wikipedia
Pompidou’s 25th anniversary exhibition (2014)
Film retrospective at Tate (2014)

Exhibition website
Press release (FR/EN), Petit journal (FR)
Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (168 MB)

Venetia Porter: Word Into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East (2006)

15 April 2016, dusan

This landmark catalogue is one of “the most comprehensive gatherings of Middle Eastern artists that has been undertaken in recent times.” Based on an exhibition mounted by the British Museum, it is “devoted to the recurring theme of calligraphy and how artists from the Middle East and North Africa use the traditional visual vocabulary of Arabic letters as a point of departure and an integral expressive element. The works, which were drawn mostly from the British Museum’s own collection of contemporary Islamic art, demonstrate how each artist celebrates the aesthetic powers and plasticity of the letters, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries, even sometimes subverting traditional canons. The artists manipulate letters, often transforming them beyond recognition, using ingenious and innovative methods, materials, styles, and daring compositions. Some use letters for purely aesthetic reasons, while others use them more instrumentally as writing, signs, or ciphers that allow the artists to grapple with issues of socio-political orientation and cultural and religious identity. For some artists this resonates with the sacred tradition of Islam and the Qur’an, while for others it is an undeniable part of their cultural heritage and a natural vehicle for expression.” (Sourced from the two reviews linked below.)

Foreword by Saeb Eigner
With contributions by Isabelle Caussé
Publisher British Museum Press, London, 2006
ISBN 0714111635, 9780714111636
144 pages
via IslamicManuscripts.info

Reviews: Islamic Monthly (2006), Maryam Ekhtiar (CAA Reviews 2007).

Publisher
Exhibition
WorldCat

PDF (124 MB)

Denise Schmandt-Besserat: When Writing Met Art: From Symbol to Story (2007)

26 August 2013, dusan

“Denise Schmandt-Besserat opened a major new chapter in the history of literacy when she demonstrated that the cuneiform script invented in the ancient Near East in the late fourth millennium BC—the world’s oldest known system of writing—derived from an archaic counting device. Her discovery, which she published in Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform and How Writing Came About, was widely reported in professional journals and the popular press. In 1999, American Scientist chose How Writing Came About as one of the “100 or so Books that shaped a Century of Science.”

In When Writing Met Art, Schmandt-Besserat expands her history of writing into the visual realm of communication. Using examples of ancient Near Eastern writing and masterpieces of art, she shows that between 3500 and 3000 BC the conventions of writing—everything from its linear organization to its semantic use of the form, size, order, and placement of signs—spread to the making of art, resulting in artworks that presented complex visual narratives in place of the repetitive motifs found on preliterate art objects. Schmandt-Besserat then demonstrates art’s reciprocal impact on the development of writing. She shows how, beginning in 2700-2600 BC, the inclusion of inscriptions on funerary and votive art objects emancipated writing from its original accounting function. To fulfill its new role, writing evolved to replicate speech; this in turn made it possible to compile, organize, and synthesize unlimited amounts of information; and to preserve and disseminate information across time and space.

Schmandt-Besserat’s pioneering investigation of the interface between writing and art documents a key turning point in human history, when two of our most fundamental information media reciprocally multiplied their capacities to communicate. When writing met art, literate civilization was born.”

Publisher University of Texas Press, 2007
ISBN 0292713347, 9780292713345
134 pages

Publisher

PDF