Date of this Version
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, SEPTEMBER 20 - NOVEMBER 5, 2000
The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden is pleased to present Conrad Bakker: Art and Objecthood, an installation that engages many of the most important aesthetic and cultural issues in the contemporary artworld. This exhibition is part of a semesterlong focus at the Sheldon Art Gallery on the significance and influence of Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. In addition to this exhibition, the permanent collection galleries of the Sheldon Art Gallery include Duchamp's famous Boite-en-Valise, an etching of his infamous Fountain, and the work of other artists, both historical and contemporary, who have been influenced by this important artist. Finally, I am teaching a seminar in the Department of Art and Art History on Duchamp and his significance on the contemporary artworld, a seminar that will interact with and engage not only the Sheldon's permanent collection, but Art and Objecthood as well.
This exhibition's subtitle, "Art and Objecthood," alludes to several important aesthetic themes. First, it refers to the title of one of the most influential critical essays of the last thirty years, written by Michael Fried in 1967, which argued that the "theatricality" of Minimalism ("objecthood") needed to be defeated through the "absorption" of advanced modernist painting and sculpture (art).l Second, Art and Objecthood refers also to a problem that interested Marcel Duchamp throughout his career, namely, what separates an art object from a non-art object? This concern is seen most explicitly in his "Readymades," in which he explored and exploited the distinction between art object and non-art object. Third, Art and Objecthood also refers to the "objecthood" of art, that is, art's identity as a commodity for consumption among other objects and the socio-political implications of consumer culture.