"Farewell To Contemporary Art?"
A Conference in two parts
Teil 1: Montag, 14. Dezember, 14-20 Uhr, Aula

Die Veranstaltung findet in englischer Sprache statt.
Die Veranstaltung ist eine Zusammenarbeit mit der ALLIANZ KULTURSTIFTUNG

Speakers: Alexander Alberro, Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Jack Bankowsky
Response: Vanessa Joan Müller, Stefan Deines, Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum

The category “Contemporary Art” has risen to a label full of promise. This is true for the city of Frankfurt in particular, where the expansion of the Städelmuseum has been justified with the need for collecting Contemporary Art. “Contemporary Art” is a composite term which contains a double charge: it promises “art” and an edgy timeline. It therefore fuses two assumptions of value. As much as “Art” is a term with an evaluative dimension, refering back to the idealist notion of a trans-historical truth and disinterestedness, “contemporary” is a slightly unspecific designator of time because it can designate what is happening at this very moment but also point to the last ten years. Since the 1990´s, contemporariness has come to be firmly associated with hipness and being “in”, and so the contemporary art enthusiast is entitled to see himself as a member of those in the know. Yet the label “contemporary art” also allowed the art world to lose its reputation for elitism. It suggests that being of your time is all it takes to understand this art, for it, too, is a phenomenon of its time. This attempt at popularisation implicit in the principle of contemporary art has worked out well. But it came at a price – the disrespect paid to the traditional specialized knowledge that is indispensable to a proper understanding of artistic practice.
But what happens when this double presumption of value on which the symbolic charisma of contemporary art is founded upon ceases to be self-evident – a process we can currently observe taking place as a consequence of the global economic crisis? Every economic crisis is also a crisis of confidence: our trust in values, both economic and symbolic, is profoundly shaken. Just as the “boom” is now a thing of the past, the principle of “Contemporary Art”, too, epitomizes a past era, despite its invocation of contemporariness. Should we, then, drop the term “contemporary art” altogether because the claim to value it presupposes has always been questionable and is now surely more questionable?

Dr. Isabelle Graw is a Professor of Art History and Criticism at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste - Städelschule.

Rector of the Städelschule and director of Portikus.

Müller has been the director of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf since September 2006.
Müller graduated from the Ruhr-Universität in Bochum with a degree in art history and film studies. From 2000 to 2005 she worked as a curator at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and in late 2005 became academic director of the project “European Kunsthalle” in Cologne, which explores different models for a potential art institution.
Vanessa Joan Müller has curated exhibitions such as “non-places” (Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2002), “New Heimat” (Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2001) and “Adorno. The possibility of the impossible” (co-curated with Nicolaus Schafhausen, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2004) and devised a programme of lectures and events entitled “Under Construction” for the European Kunsthalle, also with Nicolaus Schafhausen. Numerous publications on contemporary art and art theory confirm her position as a curator with a strong interest in contemporary art and its social and philosophical contexts.
She has written for numerous artist’s editions and catalogues, including those of De Rijke/De Rooij & Christopher Williams, Isa Genzken, Henning Bohl and Silke Schatz. She is co-author of Adorno. Die Möglichkeit des Unmöglichen (Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2003) and Palermo (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf & Künstverein Düsseldorf, 2007).

Stefan Deines teaches Philosophy at the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main; he wrote his PhD thesis on the subject Immanent Critique. Models of Critical Agency in Hermeneutics, Post-Structuralisms and Neo-Pragmatism; his main fields of interest include Critical Theory, Philosophy of History, Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art.

Columbia University, New York
Virginia Bloedel Wright Associate Professor of Art History, Barnard
Modern and contemporary Art; History of Photography
Ph.D., Northwestern, 1996
Alexander Alberro's courses and graduate advising is in the area of modern and contemporary European, U.S., and Latin American art, as well as in the history of photography. His essays on modern and contemporary art have appeared in a wide variety of journals and exhibition catalogues. He is also the author of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity (2003), and has edited a number of books on contemporary art for MIT Press and the University of California Press, including Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists Writings; Art After Conceptual Art; Museum Fictions; Recording Conceptual Art; Two-Way Mirror Power; and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. Alberro is currently completing book-length study of the emergence and development of abstract art in Latin America and is beginning to work on a volume that explores new forms of art and spectatorship that have crystallized in the past two decades.

Harvard University, Cambridge
Assistant Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of History of Art and Architecture
Department of Visual and Environmental Studies
Lambert-Beatty is an art historian whose research focuses on art since 1960, especially performance and video. She received her PhD from Stanford University in 2002, and has been a fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and the Getty Research Institute. Her writing on performance art, postmodern dance, and minimalism has been published in exhibition catalogs and in journals such as Trans, Art Journal, and October magazine, of which she has been an editor since 2008. Her book Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s (MIT Press, 2008) was the 2008 winner of the de la Torre prize for scholarship on dance. Lambert-Beatty is working on a new project on recent intersections of art and activism, parts of which have been published in the journal Signs (Winter 2008) and October (Summer 2009).

was the Editor-in-Chief of Artforum throughout the 1990s (1992-2003) and the founding editor of Artforum's sister publication, Bookforum, where he was editor from 1996 to 1998. He is currently Editor-at-Large of Artforum and a freelance critic and curator. Bankowsky has served on the juries of Takashi Murakami's GEISAI art fair and the Venice Biennale, and his controversial contemporary survey exhibition, "Pop Life: Art in a Material World," (co-curated with Alison Gingeras and Catherine Wood) is scheduled to open at Tate Modern in the fall of 2009. A visiting scholar at Yale University in the fall of 2004 and 2005, and at UCLA in 2008, he has lectured extensively on contemporary art. Recent writings have addressed the art of David Hammons, Louise Lawler, Jason Rhoades, and Richard Prince. Bankowsky's essay "Ciao Rensselaerville," on the latter artist's work, appears in the catalogue of his 2007 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum retrospective.