paris

“Times, Fashion, Morals, Passion”

Centre Pompidou

A list of the names of 60 artists in alphabetical order can always look convincing on a piece of paper. Yet what works on paper can fall apart in practice, for art is inevitably affected by the framework of an exhibition. The common dulling effect of museological displays acts as an ideological leveler, making the art comfortably familiar and diminishing the possibility of revelation. Such leveling is hard to avoid, for it is the habit of exhibitions to digest artworks, assimilating them into their immediate context and the organizers’ larger intellectual and ideological program. Many of the qualities that we attribute to artworks—small or big, good or bad, rich or poor, regular or irregular—are not inherent in the works themselves but are relative to what surrounds them. Under these conditions, a theatrical piece that strives for a certain academic monumentality—which is sanctioned and

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 1987 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.