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View of “Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now,” 2017, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Martin Seck.

Louise Lawler

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

View of “Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now,” 2017, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Martin Seck.

IN THE VIDEO The Public Life of Art: The Museum, 1988–89, Andrea Fraser guides the viewer through the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Wearing a gray business suit, she twirls past paintings by Matisse and Kline as she breathlessly enumerates the benefits museums bring to their home cities, including business talent and tourist dollars. Her script is ironic and incisive, to say the least, but the way she is framed by the camera—beside brochures and under works of art—is also striking. In one shot, a fragment of a Roy Lichtenstein painting and a burnished metal trash can form a tense whole, pieced together from art and junk, the curatorial and the custodial, high and low. In inviting the viewer to scan between these objects, the video questions art’s autonomy and more important, establishes a relationship of mutual dependency. Artwork, institution, and the viewing subject

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