TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROFANE ILLUMINATIONS: SOCIAL HISTORY AND THE ART OF JEFF WALL

CROSSOVER BETWEEN THE STUDIO and the seminar room has been a conspicuous feature of advanced art over the last fifteen years. The principal medium of exchange has been what is broadly termed “theory,” which in practice has meant a narrower set of concepts derived from the translated texts of a few French writers. But what can one say about the other, parallel development in the study of art within the academy: the strong emergence over the same period of (for want of a better term) a social history of art? Here any passage from the classroom to the actual fashioning of art has been much less obvious: the kinds of erudition generated by wide-ranging historical inquiry have been far more resistant to codification in ways that suggested immediate practical applications and rewards. If there was to be any transition between new forms of historical awareness and new moves in art, it would

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