UC Berkeley Art Alumni Group Symposium XII: Contemporary Art: Creating the Canon



Contemporary Art: Creating the Canon

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley Campus

In the Cal Art Alumni Group Annual Symposium XII, we look at some the significant changes in the role of contemporary art museums and how that shift affects change in other structures in the art world. As museums invest not only financially in the acquisition of artwork, but commission new work which has the investiture of significance and importance `a priori, we consider how this shifts weight from the vetting of galleries and collapses the filtering of time.

The gallery attention and support divides in two direction. On the one hand it champions the project space as artist laboratory for the untested, subsuming the function of the traditional alternative space. At the same time the gallery now also takes on the mantle of museum, anointing artists with retrospectives of historical scope.

In the midst of these juggled roles, the alternative space finds its mission often covered now by galleries and even museums without clear distinctions and lines of demarcation of purpose. To add to this shifting landscape, the alternative space, now often long and well established and not so terribly “alternative,” stands as a re-granting entity with powers of influencing the canon. As these new models have developed, these institutions are accommodating multiple interests and valuations of artists and their careers.

As all of these structures assume the support of art creation, this investiture historicizes without the layered scholarship and assessment of the traditionally longer view. With these systems overlapping, eclipsing, and asserting multiple roles, the voice of the art critic, the selective pen, has also been seen to reinvent itself. Writing, jurying, curating – slipping in and out of gallery and museum programs – blurring the stance of critical distance while supporting contextualization through a lens of established belonging, the art critic often becomes an extended member of the staff.

We hope you will join us in this day of wide-angled art consideration and deep reflection on these demanding changes in the realization of art projects, the acquisition of art works, and the ways in which the canon is established and maintained.