January 15, 2014

Twenty-Sixth Annual Hilla Rebay Lecture

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Fred Eversley, Untitled, 1972. Cast polyester resin, diameter: 93.3, depth: 26.4 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, Springs Mills, Inc. 78.2439 © Frederick Eversley. Photo: Kathryn Carr

This lecture will explore the intense exchange of ideas surrounding art and culture that animated the New York City art world around 1971. In that year—just as newer forms of radical art practice such as Conceptualism and Land art were gaining ground—late modernist painting and sculpture exhibited unexpected new capacities and briefly restored abstraction’s historical alliance with urgent, and otherwise inexpressible, social and political quandaries. In this talk, Darby English will consider how abstraction served the goals of activism at this time.

English is Starr Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA). He is the author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT Press, 2007) and coeditor of Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress (Rizzoli, 2003). A new book, 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press), studies social experiments with late modernist art undertaken over the period just prior to that year. English is the recipient of fellowships, grants, and awards from the Institute for Advanced Study, National Humanities Center, National Endowment for the Humanities, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Creative Capital Foundation, Getty Research Institute, and College Art Association, among others. He taught at the University of Chicago from 2003 to 2013, and in 2010 received the university’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, which is the nation’s oldest such prize.

The Hilla Rebay Lecture brings distinguished scholars to the Guggenheim Museum to examine significant issues in the theory, criticism, and history of art. This annual program is made possible through the generosity of The Hilla von Rebay Foundation.

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