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UBC Theses and Dissertations

What design means to art Marshall, Lisa


A renewed merging of art and design accompanied by the inflation of design in relation to art has been increasingly noted by writers since the 1990s. Some critics and artists such as Dan Graham have celebrated this phenomenon as a critical opportunity; others such as art historian and critic Hal Foster have criticized the trend as a catastrophic loss of the limits required for liberal subjectivity. In the first chapter, I consider Graham's position as outlined in "Art as Design/Design as Art" (1986) and contrast it with Hal Foster's argument as presented in "Design and Crime" (2002). While the writers share some points of reference, it becomes clear that the two texts are based on different critical models. My second and third chapters present case studies of works often considered to be part of the "design art" trend. At either end of the 1990s, Dia Center for the Arts realized large-scale projects: Dan Graham's Two-Way Mirror Cylinder Inside Cube and a Video Salon: Rooftop Urban Park Project for Dia Arts Center (1981- 1991) and Jorge Pardo's Project (1998-2000). Both works fit the profile of art projects that make use of the modes and methods of the fields of architecture and design. My study considers how each project related to its art institutional site, to the greater art historical and contemporary context and to changes in social, political and cultural conditions that unfolded during the 1990s. My third chapter considers works by Andrea Zittel, an artist also often discussed in terms of design, architecture and life style. While Zittel's "critical optimism" offers promise, there are some critical failings of her project. I analyze some of the problems presented by Zittel's works in relation to comparable projects by Dan Graham and Jorge Pardo. These projects question, but also contribute to, the overvaluation of design that accompanies the contemporary phenomenon of obsession with styling self.

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