PRINT November 2007



REMEMBER KING TUT? Some thirty years ago, critics of the art world’s institutional workings ominously forewarned that the rise of the blockbuster exhibition—the showcase designed for mass appeal, able to draw immense throngs into the gilded tombs of history by taking up such iconic subjects as the ancient Egyptian ruler or Impressionism—would be attended by the dilution of historical discourse and the artistic community’s public sphere. After all, how could a meaningful, nuanced synthetic analysis of often profoundly ambiguous contemporary concerns take place when exhibition spaces were increasingly devoted to artists (if not to pharaohs) with the kind of name recognition more typically associated with the most popular commercial brands? Following the logic of a mass-production economy based on volume, the institutions of art—whose success would soon come to be measured

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