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IN THEORY & PRACTICE: A HISTORY OF THE WHITNEY INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAM

In memory of Joe Bishop, ISP 1976–77

I’d like to think this essay has been written at the suggestion of Thomas Crow, who singled out the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in his examination of the “new art history” in the second of Artforum’s special issues on the ’80s last spring and proposed that there was more to be said:

One American crucible where social art history and the theoretical approach associated with October came together lay in the estimable Whitney Independent Study Program (long may it flourish) under the direction of Ron Clark. The ISP welcomed representatives of both tendencies and fostered an environment where their overlapping implications were put into play for cohort after cohort of beginning artists, curators, and critics. (The radiating effects of this unique, ongoing experiment merit a sustained study in their own right.) But here as

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