Skip navigation

Branden W. Joseph

Branden W. Joseph is Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and an editor of the journal Grey Room (MIT Press).

Titles by This Author

Tony Conrad and the Arts After Cage

Tony Conrad has significantly influenced cultural developments from minimalism to underground film, "concept art," postmodern appropriation, and the most sophisticated rock and roll. Creator of the "structural" film, The Flicker, collaborator on Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures and Normal Love, follower of Henry Flynt's radical anti-art, member of the Theatre of Eternal Music and the first incarnation of The Velvet Underground, and early associate of Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, and Cindy Sherman, Conrad has eluded canonic histories. Yet Beyond the Dream Syndicate does not claim Conrad as a major but under-recognized figure. Neither monograph nor social history, the book takes Conrad's collaborative interactions as a guiding thread by which to investigate the contiguous networks and discursive interconnections in 1960s art. Such an approach simultaneously illuminates and estranges current understandings of the period, redrawing the map across medium and stylistic boundaries to reveal a constitutive hybridization at the base of the decade's artistic development.

This exploration of Conrad and his milieu goes beyond the presentation of a relatively overlooked oeuvre to chart multiple, contestatory regimes of power simultaneously in play during the pivotal moment of the 1960s. From the sovereign authority invoked by Young's music, to the "paranoiac" politics of Flynt, to the immanent control modeled by Conrad's films, each avant-garde project examined reveals an investment within a particular structure of power and resistance, providing a glimpse into the diversity of the artistic and political stakes that continue to define our time.

Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde

Robert Rauschenberg is one of the most important visual artists of the second half of the twentieth century. In Random Order, Branden Joseph examines Rauschenberg's work in the context of the American neo-avant-garde. One of the foundations of his study is Rauschenberg's professional relationship with experimental composer John Cage. From the moment of their encounter at Black Mountain College in 1952, Joseph argues, Rauschenberg and Cage initiated a new avant-garde project, one that approached the idea of difference not in terms of negation but as a positive force. Claiming that Rauschenberg's work cannot be understood solely from the standpoint of the Frankfurt School—whose theories have dominated discussions of avant-garde and neo-avant-garde aesthetics—Joseph turns to the theoretical positions of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. Rauschenberg's neo-avant-garde was not a simple repetition of earlier avant-garde movements, Joseph shows, but a series of practices that opposed the rise of postwar spectacle, commodification, and mass conformity.

Beginning with the White Paintings, Joseph examines Rauschenberg?s artistic development from 1951 to 1971. He looks at the black paintings, Red Paintings, Elemental Paintings and Elemental Sculptures, Combines and Combine paintings, transfer drawings and silkscreens, performances, and explorations in art and technology. Joseph?s study not only offers new interpretations of Rauschenberg?s work, but also deepens our understanding of the entire neo-avant-garde project.

Titles by This Editor

From the moment art historian Leo Steinberg championed his work in opposition to Clement Greenberg's rigid formalism, Robert Rauschenberg has played a pivotal role in the development and understanding of postmodern art. Challenging nearly all the prevailing assumptions about the visual arts of his time, he pioneered the postwar revival of collage, photography, silkscreen, technology, and performance.This book focuses on Rauschenberg's work during the critical period of the 1950s and 1960s. It opens with a newly prefaced version of Leo Steinberg's "Reflections on the State of Criticism," the first published version of his famous 1972 essay, "Other Criteria," which remains the single most important text on Rauschenberg. Rosalind Krauss's "Rauschenberg and the Materialized Image" builds on Steinberg's essay, arguing that Rauschenberg's work represents a decisive shift in contemporary art. Douglas Crimp's "On the Museum's Ruins" examines Rauschenberg's silkscreens in the context of the modern museum. Helen Molesworth's "Before Bed" uses psychoanalytic and economic structures to examine the artist's Black Paintings of the early 1950s. A second essay by Krauss, "Perpetual Inventory," revisits both her and Steinberg's articles of nearly twenty-five years earlier. Finally, Branden Joseph's "A Duplication Containing Duplications" views Rauschenberg's silkscreens in relation to the artist's interests in technology, particularly television.