UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Distension and dissension : Artforum and the seventies McNally, Simon


This thesis examines a segment of the art press in New York City during the early to mid 1970s, paying special attention to Artforum, The Fox, and October. In analyzing the editorial contents of these journals during this period, I have sought to elaborate several themes, including the breakdown of consensus in the artistic community, the shift in values from a notion of quality to democratic social values, the emergence of the individual as a discreet interest from the larger community, the relationship between art and commerce, and the crisis in artistic development. In elaborating these themes, I have sought to position them in the larger contexts of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, feminism, Watergate, and the financial crisis of New York City. I have drawn on Pierre Bourdieu’s theories found in The Field of Cultural Production to understand the interests of various agents in the art world. The notions of disinterestedness and intellectual autonomy are central concerns of the art world and are often in competition with notions of heteronomy and theatricality. My contention is that as the social and political crises of the period exacerbated the contradictions between artistic ideals and the larger social and political structures that art is founded upon, the responses of various agents in the art world were motivated by notions of moral and intellectual purism. Some of the analyses include Artforum’s response to "Art and Technology," Artforum’s 10th anniversary, Robert Morris’s and Lynda Benglis’ exhibition advertisements and the Artforum editors’ response to Benglis’ advertisement of November 1974.

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