Endgame: reference and simulation in recent American painting and sculpture

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Institute of Contemporary Art, 1986 - Art - 115 pages
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Preface by David A. Ross

Endgame provides the first comprehensive discussion of two interrelated groups of artists who have recently emerged amidst brisk critical debate and who all, in various ways, represent a critique of the commodity, or the commodification of art objects.

These are the painters Ross Bleckner, Peter Halley, Sherrie Levine, and Philip Taaffe, who have ironically adopted the visual strategies of earlier modern artists, and the sculptors General Idea, Jon Kessler, Jeff Koons, Joel Otterson, and Haim Steinbach, who use consumer objects and their modes of presentation as raw material in their sculpture. Both sets of artists draw upon the formal lessons of Pop Art, Minimalism, and the more recent work of "appropriation" artists, as well as upon current theories of the political economy of the image.

The book includes substantial essays by some of today's most noted art historians and critics: Yve-Alain Bois (Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University) charts the history of the belief in "the end of painting" which he sees as central within 20th-century art, and he compares the diverse strategies that Mondrian, Rodchenko, Duchamp, and more recently Robert Ryman have employed to work out an "end of painting," with the qualitatively different apocalyptic tone of Halley, Levine, Bleckner, and Taaffe.

Hal Foster (Senior Editor of Art in America) examines the critical position of the sculpture of Steinbach, Koons, Kessler, and General Idea in relation to the history of the opposition between commodity and art object within modern art as first dramatized by Duchamp's readymades. Thomas Crow (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Michigan) charts the recent history of image appropriation as an antimodern or postmodern gesture of art's apparent loss of originality and cultural or social powerlessness in the face of the paradoxically thriving art market.

The iconography of the sculptures included in Endgame is the focus of David Joselit's essay Modern Leisure, which notes in particular the frequency with which objects associated with sports and housecleaning are incorporated in their works. Elisabeth Sussman charts the transition between widespread appropriation of imagery drawn from mass media sources in the late 1970s and early 1980s to the use of fine art referents (like Op Art) in recent abstract painting. Bob Riley describes media performances by Richard Baim, Gretchen Bendes and Perry Hoberman which accompany Endgame.

David Joselit, Bob Riley, and Elisabeth Sussman are curators at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Distributed by The MIT Press.

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THE TASK OF MOURNING by YveAlain Bois 29

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About the author (1986)

Yve-Alain Bois studied at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes under the guidance of Roland Barthes and Hubert Damisch. A founder of the French journal Macula, Bois is currently a professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.

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