Art Bulletin December 2010

The December issue of Art Bulletin includes articles by Tom Folland and Terry Smith. Abstracts:

  • Tom Folland, “Robert Rauschenberg’s Queer Modernism: The Early Combines and Decoration”

The Combines that Robert Rauschenberg produced between 1953 and 1956 represent a “queering” of Abstract Expressionism and, by extension, the culture of postwar modernism itself, through the artist’s pronounced use of decoration. The decorative materiality of his work is overlooked by current scholarship, which frames the Combines as either a postmodern allegory of representation or an iconographically read revelation of his gay identity. An alternative view is to refuse biography and draw on queer theory’s opposition to legible—and legislated—identity to read the decorative as a queerly deconstructive strategy deployed to undermine postwar American art’s grand narratives of subjectivity.

  • Terry Smith, “The State of Art History: Contemporary Art”

Contemporary art became prominent in public media, markets and museums, and art-world discourse during the 1990s, eclipsing most previous art. Since then, it has become a burgeoning art historical research field, yet its academic status remains ambiguous, its position in relation to art criticism is contradictory, and its goals and procedures are radically undertheorized. Nonetheless, the concept of the contemporary offers as rich a resource for understanding art within contemporaneity as did the concept of the modern for art within modernity, as revealed by this survey of the concept’s emergence, history, and current status in art historical discourse.