Sylvielin's Blog

Interview with Jérôme Glicenstein, Theorist of History of Exhibition

Posted in about Art, Interviews (uncategorized) by sylvielin on February 16, 2013

“As you said, there are particular tendencies in the art world at certain historical moments. It’s like fashion: we repeat the same styles every twenty years. In contemporary art, for example, in the 1980s, there was a global return to traditional or figurative art forms: many artists who produced conceptual art in the 1970s shifted to painting and sculpture.”
—- Jérôme Glicenstein, quoted from the interview〔Extract from the original text〕

Q You teach the ‘History of Exhibitions’ in the Université Paris 8. Generally, in the contemporary art world, there’s a lack of acknowledgment of what has happened in the recent decades in this domain. Yet if we take a historical point of view, many of what we claim to be ‘new’ today has already been proposed very earlier on. Besides, from a historical perspective, we might perceive certain tendencies in a given historical moment, and there can be a kind of ‘come back/return’ at another given moment.

A  A very good example is the term ‘laboratory’ that is so recurrent in today’s contemporary art discourses. Initially it had been proposed by several museum curators (and scholars): in the 1920s, Louis Hautecoeur or Alexander Dorner. Besides, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, one of the most famous curators of today, has referred to Dorner as his role model. The fact that such historical oblivion exists in the contemporary art world relates directly to the necessity of constant renewal: we need to give the impression that there is always something happening, in order to attract a larger public. But we can find so many new things only once in a while, so we recycle past things and treat them in a new way.
As you said, there are particular tendencies in the art world at certain historical moments. It’s like fashion: we repeat the same styles every twenty years. In contemporary art, for example, in the 1980s, there was a global return to traditional or figurative art forms: many artists who produced conceptual art in the 1970s shifted to painting and sculpture. I think it related directly to the market. In the 1970s, there was no market for contemporary art, except for a very small number of artists.

(Interview made in Paris in June 2011.)

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