Editorial

Tangled webs

‘NO JURY, NO PRIZE’ was the motto of the Society of Independent Artists exhibition to which Marcel Duchamp submitted his readymade Fountain in 1917. The phrase could equally be taken as an epithet for the inclusive but indiscriminate nature of the Internet, particularly from the vantage point of art history. None would dispute that the Internet is now essential for art-historical research and teaching. It enables blindingly fast searches of enormous amounts of data, and instantaneous communication, despite distance. The benefits of being online are now part of the everyday working life of all art historians and curators in universities, museums and beyond. But how has art history changed in the Internet age, and in what ways have things improved? Has art history caught up with what the Internet can offer?

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  • A university building for New York

    By Elon Danziger

    AS LATE AS 1825, seats of learning with the Gothic aspect of some of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were unknown anywhere in the New World. Yet as the nineteenth century unfolded, many American universities began to embrace a Gothic style that looked backwards in time and eastward in direction, and the lynchpin was the building of a new university in New York. Archival research has permitted a reconstruction of the complex history of the New York University commission for the first time.

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  • Breaking open the wall: the Morelia mural of Guston, Kadish and Langsner

    By Albert Boime

    IN THEIR MURAL painted in 1934–35 in the Museo Michoacano housed in the state university in Morelia, Mexico, three American compatriots – Philip Guston, Reuben Kadish and Jules Langsner – attempted to find a revolutionary art form that at the same time would be capable of yielding a powerful socially conscious theme (Figs.14 and 15). The dynamic trio began their mural in a crucial year for organised labour, energised primarily by Communist activists. It was a year characterised by a number of major strikes across the United States that set the stage for John L. Lewis, leader of the United Mine Workers, to organise the federation of industrial unions known as the CIO in the autumn of the following year. At the same time, there would have been a receptive climate for the mural in Morelia. In 1934 Lázaro Cárdenas, president-elect of Mexico, convoked an unprecedented convention for workers and employers that became known as the First Mexican Industrial Congress with themes that included collective bargaining, strikes, peasant labour, arbitration and social security. Cárdenas and his supporters embraced the idea of the Marxist class struggle as inherent in the capitalist system of production, and acted on the belief that the function of modern government was to regulate it on behalf of labour as the weaker of the two entities. He openly spoke of the need for a popular ‘socialistic education’ as a means of ensuring ‘true individual liberty’. Finally, to bring it all closer to home, the then rector of the University of Michoacán, Gustavo Corona, ultimately responsible for authorising the mural, committed himself and his institution to the radical ideology espoused by Cárdenas. That Guston, Kadish and Langsner were in touch with these political events is evident from the fact that the trio travelled to Mexico City in time for the inauguration of Cárdenas on 1st December.

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  • Double exposure: Robert Rauschenberg’s and Cy Twombly’s Roman holiday

    By Nicholas Cullinan

    SET AMID THE bronze horses of San Marco, a self-portrait of Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly in Venice is superimposed with ancient spolia from Constantinople, Gothic columns and capitals, and the Renaissance Torre dell’Orologio (Fig.25). A photographic double exposure of the two young American artists presents a historical and artistic palimpsest that engulfs the subjects. This accidental layering of imagery perhaps initially appears little different from countless other snapshots that are taken each year at the same place. What differentiates this particular photograph, apart from the notability of the sitters, is its iconic significance in embodying Rauschenberg’s and Twombly’s own shared exposure to a variety of cultures and influences during their formative ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe and North Africa that continued to inform their art for many years afterwards.

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  • The Revenge of Thomas Eakins

    By Randall C. Griffin
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  • A Life of Picasso. Volume III: The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932

    By James Beechey
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  • Alex Katz

    By Merlin James
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  • Ad Reinhardt

    By Sanda Miller
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  • Alex Katz in Maine

    By Merlin James
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  • Alex Katz Paints Ada

    By Merlin James
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  • Alex Katz: Collages

    By Merlin James
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  • Alex Katz: New York

    By Merlin James
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  • Alex Katz: The Sixties

    By Merlin James
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  • Amazing rare things. London

    By Gillian Darley
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  • Steam. Liverpool and Kansas City

    By William Mostyn-Owen
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  • Miró: la terra. Ferrara and Madrid

    By Philip Rylands
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  • Balla; Sironi. Milan

    By Chris Michaelides
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  • Ottocento. Rome

    By Simonetta Fraquelli
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  • Salvator Rosa. Naples

    By Xavier F. Salomon
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  • Sebastiano del Piombo. Rome and Berlin

    By Silvia Danesi Squarzina
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  • Mark Rothko. Rome, Munich and Hamburg

    By David Anfam
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  • Whitney Biennial; Carnegie International. New York; Pittsburgh

    By David Carrier
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  • Louise Nevelson. Rockland ME

    By James Lawrence
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