David Joselit

David Joselit is Professor and Chair in the Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University. His most recent book, Heritage and Debt: Art in Globalization (MIT Press), received the 2021 Robert Motherwell Book Award.

  • Heritage and Debt

    Heritage and Debt

    Art in Globalization

    David Joselit

    How global contemporary art reanimates the past as a resource for the present, combating modern art's legacy of Eurocentrism.

    If European modernism was premised on the new—on surpassing the past, often by assigning it to the “traditional” societies of the Global South—global contemporary art reanimates the past as a resource for the present. In this account of what globalization means for contemporary art, David Joselit argues that the creative use of tradition by artists from around the world serves as a means of combatting modern art's legacy of Eurocentrism. Modernism claimed to live in the future and relegated the rest of the world to the past. Global contemporary art shatters this myth by reactivating various forms of heritage—from literati ink painting in China to Aboriginal painting in Australia—in order to propose new and different futures. Joselit analyzes not only how heritage becomes contemporary through the practice of individual artists but also how a cultural infrastructure of museums, biennials, and art fairs worldwide has emerged as a means of generating economic value, attracting capital and tourist dollars.

    Joselit traces three distinct forms of modernism that developed outside the West, in opposition to Euro-American modernism: postcolonial, socialist realism, and the underground. He argues that these modern genealogies are synchronized with one another and with Western modernism to produce global contemporary art. Joselit discusses curation and what he terms “the curatorial episteme,” which, through its acts of framing or curating, can become a means of recalibrating hierarchies of knowledge—and can contribute to the dual projects of decolonization and deimperialization.

    • Hardcover $40.00

Contributor

  • Painting beyond Itself

    Painting beyond Itself

    The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition

    Isabelle Graw and Ewa Lajer-Burcharth

    In response to recent developments in pictorial practice and critical discourse, Painting beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-medium Condition seeks new ways to approach and historicize the question of the medium. Reaching back to the earliest theoretical and institutional definitions of painting, this book—based on a conference at Harvard University in 2013—focuses on the changing role of materiality in establishing painting as the privileged practice, discourse, and institution of modernity. Myriad conceptions of the medium and its specificity are explored by an international group of scholars, critics, and artists. Painting beyond Itself is a forum for rich historical, theoretical, and practice-grounded conversation.

    ContributorsCarol Armstrong, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Sabeth Buchmann, René Démoris, Isabelle Graw, David Joselit, Jutta Koether, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, Julie Mehretu, Matt Saunders, Amy Sillman

    Institut für Kunstkritik Series

    • Paperback $19.95