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New Left Review 20, March-April 2003


Sven Lütticken on Daniel Buren, Mot à Mot. Could a collaboration between avant-garde artist and sociologist escape the logic of the spectacle, or must it in some fashion reproduce it? Bourdieu’s last notes on art, with a view of Paris rooftops.

SVEN LÜTTICKEN

STRIPES, NO STARS

In the late sixties, Artforum and other specialist magazines began increasingly to publish ‘installation shots’ of artworks that showed not only the piece itself but the exhibition area within which it was located. Minimalist works by artists such as Robert Morris, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin—neither paintings nor traditional sculptures on pedestals, but structures that shared a space with the viewer—could hardly be depicted otherwise; especially in the case of Flavin’s neon light pieces, where the work transformed the perception of the surrounding environment. The ‘installation shot’ led to a new use of the term ‘installation’, which came to refer not merely to any work of art located in a gallery but to a new form: installation art. Artists such as Marcel Broodthaers and Hans Haacke gave this practice a political turn. Installation art became an investigation of the art context not merely in a spatial sense, but also in an institutional one. In brief: the Minimalist phenomenological investigation of space gave way to a post-Minimalist critique of institutions and power structures.

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