[Lecture] From Action to Concept: Transformation of Late Modernist Art Theory

Keynote speaker:Pi Li,Mao Qiuyue,Lu Mingjun

14:00-16:30 December 27, 2015

In September 2015, Pi Li’s new book From “Action” to “Concept”: Transformation of Late Modernist Art Theory was published by Taiwan Archives. In this book, guided by Rosenberg and Greenburg’s two different comments and discourse constructions on abstract expressionism (especially Pollock), the author investigates the complex interactions among art practice, art system and international cultural politics back then, succinctly describes this important history from late 1950s to early 1970s, and hence reveals the motivation, drive and occurrence mechanism of this theoretical discourse. Coincidentally, Dr. Mao Qiuyue’s translated version of Reconstruction of Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in 1940s, which took American art historian Michael Leja 10 years to finish, was lately published by Jiangsu Phoenix Fine Arts Publishing House. In this book, besides several existing interpretation frameworks of abstract expressionism such as “form”, “action” and ideology, the author restores the artists’ real psychological mechanisms and historical context through plenty details, thus bringing forward the issue discussed in Pi’s book to 1940s and even earlier. It also happens to serve as a background supplement of Pi’s book.
Needless to say, to this day, the discourse of European and American (especially American) contemporary art in middle period of last century still affects and even dominates our basic understanding and expression system of contemporary art. But in fact, today’s situation is far different from that in Cold War period. Neo-liberalism dominated capital globalization has penetrated all over the world. Contemporary art system, which has long been coerced therein, is unable to release enough cultural and political energy and it also seems increasingly difficult to respond to the complex geopolitical and cultural patterns. In a sense, the publication of these two books and their concerns also provide us with a historic opportunity to reflect upon and review today’s contemporary art and its cultural and political conditions. To this end, we have particularly invited two authors / translators to carry out an in-depth discussion about topics related to these two books.

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