Art and Social Function

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Ellipsis, 2000 - Art - 240 pages
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This is a new edition of a classic conceptual-art text first published in 1976. Long out of print and much sought-after, Art and Social Function starts from the position that 'art practice operates within an environment of institutions and groups of people which effectively maintain it as an identifiable activity within society'. Instead of preaching to the converted -- those already within 'art's social environment' who are concerned about such questions as what constitutes an artwork -- Willats argues that the artist should embrace the concept of pluralism and with it the relativism of the audience's perception and the context-dependency of the artwork.

As well as providing a theoretical framework, Art and Social Function documents two large-scale projects -- one in west London and the other in Edinburgh -- and introduced Meta Filter, an interactive machine designed to develop the relationships between individuals, and between individuals and groups through the examination of differing perceptions of social coding structures.

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About the author (2000)

Since the late 1950s, STEPHEN WILLATS has been producing pioneering artworks that take the role of the artist into the community. His work has been exhibited in many major galleries throughout the world including the Tate Gallery in his home city of London, the National Gallerie in Berlin and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. In 1990 he convened the international symposium 'Art Creating Society' at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. He continues to edit Control magazine, which he founded in 1965 as a forum for artists to articulate their vision of the future of art in society.

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