Panelist: Delia Solomons

Delia SolomonsDelia Solomons is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU) specializing in twentieth-century art of the Americas and Europe. She currently works as the Graduate Curatorial Assistant at the Grey Art Gallery and a Preceptor in the Department of Art History at NYU. In addition to teaching, she has worked as a Freelance Writer/Editor/Researcher for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and a Curatorial Assistant for the exhibition “Encuentros con los 30,” which will open in Fall 2012 at the Museo Reina Sofía. She has presented papers at the Pratt Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation, which is in progress, examines the evolution of Latin American art as a museological and scholarly discipline in the United States in the 1960s, as well as artists’ responses to this emerging discourse.

During Panel #2 at “The End of the –ist and the Future of Art History,” she will present a paper titled “Chaos Theory: Luis Felipe Noé in New York,” which examines the poetics of chaos—a deconstructive principle that undermines rigid societal and conceptual categories—developed by the Argentine artist in his assemblages and theoretical writings over the course of two trips to New York in the 1960s.

Panelist: Ksenia Yachmetz

Ksenia YachmetzKsenia Yachmetz is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Art History at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is a Dodge Fellow, holding a Graduate Curatorial Assistantship in the Nancy and Norton Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum. Her research focuses on historicizing the years 1989 and 1991 as turning points within Soviet and post-Soviet art historical narratives across Central and Eastern Europe.

Ksenia graduated summa cum laude from New York University in 2009 with degrees in Art History and Russian & Slavic Studies. There, she wrote her undergraduate honors thesis under the advisement of professors Pepe Karmel and Boris Groys. Her thesis, entitled “A Genealogy of Power: Soviet and Post-Soviet Political Art,” theorized the relationship between Ukrainian and Romanian contemporary art and post-Soviet politics in light of the legacy of the historical avant-garde. Excerpts of it have been presented at conferences and published in journals associated with the Cleveland Museum of Art, Bowling Green University, and Northwestern University. Over the years in pursuit of her research, Ksenia has lived and studied in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, and Germany.

Both during and after college, Ksenia has held internships at Marian Goodman Gallery, the Ukrainian Museum of New York, Mimi Ferzt Gallery, and the New Museum. In summer 2011, she was a research assistant for the Thomas Walther Collection in the Departments of Photography and Conservation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Within the past year, she was appointed Administrator of The Malevich Society, an academic organization established for the pursuit and promotion of scholarship on the Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich.

Ms. Yachmetz will present “Here, There, Everywhere: Theoretical and Applied Mappings of Contemporary Eastern European Art” during Panel #2.

Panelist: Andrew Cappetta

Andrew Cappetta is a doctoral candidate in the department of Art History at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. His primary research interest is the intersection between post-WWII/contemporary art and music. His forthcoming dissertation, “Pop/Art: The British Art School and the Birth of Underground Music, 1960-1980,” traces the connections between pedagogical changes in British art schools in the late 1950s/early 1960s to the development of underground music. He is an educator at Parsons, The New School for Design, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail.

Mr. Cappetta will present “An Art History of Pop Music” during Panel #3.

Should museums mix departments?

In a recent article in The Guardian, The School of Life founder Alain de Botton questions the role of the modern art museum, positing since “museums of art our are new churches,” they may better serve the public by reorganizing themselves to take on the inspirational, instructional and other duties previously performed by actual churches.

De Botton writes:

The problem is that modern museums of art fail to tell people directly why art matters, because modernist aesthetics (in which curators are trained) is so deeply suspicious of any hint of an instrumental approach to culture. To have an answer anyone could grasp as to the question of why art matters is too quickly viewed as “reductive”. We have too easily swallowed the modernist idea that art that aims to change or help or console its audience must by definition be “bad art” – Soviet art is routinely trotted out here as an example – and that only art that wants nothing of us can be good. Hence the all-too-frequent question with which we leave the modern museum of art: what did that mean?

Why should this veneration of ambiguity continue? Why should confusion be a central aesthetic emotion? Is an emptiness of intent on the part of an artwork really a sign of its importance?

He continues by suggesting that museums can better influence viewers by changing their exhibitions:

Modern art museums typically lead us into galleries set out under headings such as “the 19th century” and “the Northern Italian School”, which reflect the academic traditions in which their curators have been educated. A more fertile indexing system might group together artworks from across genres and eras according to our inner needs. A walk through a museum of art should amount to a structured encounter with a few of the things that are easiest for us to forget and most essential and life-enhancing to remember.

Is de Botton’s argument valid? Is his proposed mixing of genres and eras according to viewers’ inner needs a sound art historical practice? Is genre mixing–for other reasons–the future of the art museum? Has any museum done this successfully?

Please post your thoughts in the comments.