Lenox Library Picture Gallery

The Lenox Library—the precursor to the New York Public Library—once contained a marvelous public painting gallery filled with the acquisitions of bibliophile James Lenox (1800–80). Prof. Sally Webster recreated the gallery for her contribution to the Fall 2018 issue of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, with text panels by yours truly.


Save the Date: Bring-a-Thing-a-Thon at the GC, Oct 16-17

This fall, the Graduate Center will launch a new initiative on the ground floor of the Mina Rees Library: the Object Library is a cross between a sculpture gallery and a traditional library offering both material objects and books as starting points for knowledge. To kick off the project, we’ll be installing a temporary installation in AY 18/19 entitled 365 Things, featuring objects donated by the GC community that reflect our research, personal history, and social experience. Bring an object no bigger than your head for documentation and display as part of our Bring-a-Thing-a-Thon event in the James Gallery on October 16 & 17. For more details, visit centerforthehumanities.org.

“The Artist as Public Intellectual” at CAA 2019

I will be chairing a panel entitled “The Artist as Public Intellectual: 1968 to Today” at CAA’s Annual Conference in 2019. Proposals are due by August 6, 2018. Please visit the CAA website for submission requirements.

The Artist as Public Intellectual: 1968 to Today
Along with increased specialization and the rise of the rapid news cycle, the status of intellectuals in public life has experienced a shift since the mid-20th century. Long populated by social thinkers, literary critics, and philosophers, the public intellectual—once called upon to combat political propaganda with facts and cultural analysis—has now been replaced by an expert talking head. Artists have played an equally active part in public life for millennia, experiencing an apogee around 1968 with figures such as Judy Chicago and Joseph Beuys. Although in recent decades many have abandoned their utopian proclamations in favor of localized action, today’s artists are increasingly seeking methods to generate public debate and address social problems, reviving the tradition of the public intellectual by using art as a mode of cultural critique writ large.

This panel seeks papers that investigate modes of art making that might be considered activities of public intellectualism since the turbulent 1960s in order to identify global phenomena and establish precedents for today’s practitioners. How have artists sought out public methods of and venues for idea production and dissemination with the goal of resisting hegemonic power and/or catalyzing social change? Which strategies were successful (or unsuccessful) and which ideas took hold on a mass scale? How have artists built upon existing activist movements or cultural moments in order to broadcast their ideas? Papers may address individual artists and/or projects, thematic case studies, or curatorial methodologies; artists are also encouraged to present on their own work.

Join My Mailing List for Updates!

Click on “Contact” and follow the link to join my mailing list. I haven’t used it yet—but I promise that there will be some good updates soon! This spring, for example, I have several new publications, including articles in the Journal for Curatorial Studies and FIELD and (finally!) Peter Halley Paintings of the 1980s: The Catalogue Raisonné with JRP Ringier.

Gordon Matta-Clark at BxMA

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my essay, “Directing Energy: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Pursuit of Social Sculpture,” in the catalogue for the exhibition Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at the Bronx Museum, open from November 12, 2017 to April 8, 2018. The essay discusses Matta-Clark’s socially engaged projects, including Food, Fresh Air CartGraffiti Truck, and the Resource Center and Environmental Youth Program for Loisaida.

Cara Jordan, “Directing Energy: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Pursuit of Social Sculpture,” Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), 36-63.

Click here for full text.

Back to the GC!

I’m pleased to announce that for the academic year 2017–2018, I will be the Provost’s Fellow in the Arts and Assistant to the Director at the Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate Center. In my new position, I will be working with the acting director, sculptor Keith Wilson, on academic conferences and workshops, in addition to assisting with exhibitions.

Our first projects include Block Party: Peter Krashes (Sep 15–Oct 28), an exhibition Keith co-curated with Katherine Carl at the James Gallery featuring paintings by Prospect Heights–activist Krashes, and the symposium “Casting the Curriculum: The Parthenon Marbles, Plaster Casts, and Public Sculpture” (Oct 24), a day-long event to welcome CCNY’s long-term loan of plaster casts made of the Elgin marbles to the GC.

Small Updates

I’m happy to report that this semester I’ve returned to teaching at CUNY’s City College while I finish Peter Halley’s catalogue raisonné (coming out this summer!) and an essay for the Bronx Museum’s Gordon Matta-Clark show this fall.