Inversions, conversions, aberrations: Visual acuity and the erratic chemistry of art-historical transmission in a transcultural situation

McNamara, Andrew (2016) Inversions, conversions, aberrations: Visual acuity and the erratic chemistry of art-historical transmission in a transcultural situation. Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Art, 16(1), pp. 3-21.

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Abstract

If the contemporary artworld has become truly transnational and transcultural, then many argue this requires a new approach to art history. As the philosopher Robert Pippin recently noted, the question, “what was modernism?” ‘has not been on the front page of aesthetic theory for some time, but there is considerable interest in ‘“alternate” or basically non-Western, non-canonical modernisms.’ If the consideration of modernism is no longer to be dispensed with, then what is its relation to developing a new approach to art history? The characteristic of these alternate approaches is their attentiveness to the intersection of local and global artistic-cultural conditions. This paper examines the provocative argument posed by Geoff Batchen that Antipodean art-historical inquiry has now acquired international significance because it has long contemplated these challenges to art history. In particular, Batchen looks to the work of Ian Burn as a model for investigating how a reconsideration of the modernist legacy can help to furnish a non-canonical counter-model open to a more transcultural treatment of art history. While I believe Batchen’s recourse to Burn is significant, it is also curtailed because it does take into account Burn’s very last writings, which revisit the consequences of minimal and conceptual art from which he develops the theme of visual acuity. I assert that Burn’s last writings challenge the blind spot of the new ‘horizontal’, cross-cultural art historical inquiry: critical discernment in the horizontal, transcultural approach to art-historical inquiry. The consequence is that we require a more dynamic awareness of art historical transmission, exchange and reception.

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ID Code: 98326
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Postcolonialism, Contemporary art, Modernism
DOI: 10.1080/14434318.2016.1172543
ISSN: 1443-4318
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > ART THEORY AND CRITICISM (190100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Facilities: CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, Inc
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2016 23:35
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2016 22:42

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