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Art World Outliers, with Lynne Cooke

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Guest Lynne Cooke and host Charlotte Burns view works by James Castle in the "Outliers and American Vanguard Art" exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (until 13 May)

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

One of the most talked about exhibitions this year, “Outliers and American Vanguard Art”, closes next week at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (13 May), after which it will travel to the High Museum in Atlanta and then to LACMA. 

Our guest today is Lynne Cooke, the senior curator of special projects at the NGA who spent five years researching the exhibition. Talking to our host Charlotte Burns, Cooke says much of the art on show was made by people on the peripheries, often in marginalized positions because of their gender, race, class or age. “A great deal was made by African-American artists. Their work is simply not entered into the circuits and orbits of the contemporary art world for lack of opportunity, for lack of education, for lack of money. As I said: class, race.” 
 
The exhibition comprises around 270 works by more than 80 artists and focuses on periods of social, political, economic and cultural upheaval in the United States, during which times the boundaries between the avant-garde and the outliers—self-taught, marginalized, Outsider artists—became more porous. 
 
One of the most thoughtful curators working today, Cooke talks to us about her experience in preparing for the show, which “called into question a whole set of ideas about creativity and the basis on which innovation and originality and exploration take place”.

For the full transcript, click here

“I want to borrow a phrase from Suzanne Hudson, who is a critic and art historian who’s written on this. When she was thinking about the role of curators, she used the phrase: ‘the dispensation of privilege’.”

A great deal of this work was made by African-American artists. And their work is simply not entered into the circuits and orbits of the contemporary art world for lack of opportunity, for lack of education, for lack of money. As I said, class, race.”

“It called into question a whole set of ideas about creativity and the basis on which innovation and originality and exploration take place.”

Who


Lynne Cooke

senior curator of special projects in Modern art, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Lynne Cooke joined the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in August 2014 as senior curator of special projects in Modern art. Cooke was previously appointed the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (Casva) from 2012 to 2014.

Before arriving at Casva in 2012, Cooke was deputy director and chief curator at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008–12); curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York (1991–2008); artistic director, 10th Biennale of Sydney (1994–96); co-curator 1991 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and lecturer, history of art, University College, London University. Cooke has also worked in various capacities at numerous academic institutions including Yale University, New Haven; Malmö Art Academy, Malmö, Sweden; Bard College, New York; and La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Other professional experience includes serving on the editorial board of The Burlington Magazine, 1988 to present, and on the Turner Prize Committee, Tate Gallery, London, 1985.

Highlights of exhibitions she has organized include the current “Outliers and American Vanguard Art” (at the NGA until 13 May); “Cristina Iglesias: A Place of Reflection” at Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janiero (2013); “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, New Museum, New York, and Serpentine Gallery, London (2012–13); “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964–1977” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Dia Beacon/CCS Bard College (2010–11); “Francis Alÿs, Fabiola” at Dia at the Hispanic Society of America (2007 and still touring); “Zoe Leonard: You See I am Here After All” at Dia: Beacon (2008); “Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years“, co-curated with Kynaston McShine, at MoMA (2007); and the 1996 Sydney Biennale.

Cooke has received many awards and is widely published. In 2013 she wrote essays for the exhibition catalogues Matt Mullican: Subject Element Sign Frame World (Skira/Rizzoli, New York, 2013) and Orthodoxies Undermined, Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2013). She has also authored or written for other exhibition catalogues about the work of such artists as Alighiero Boetti, James Castle, James Coleman, Willem de Kooning, Ann Hamilton, William Kentridge, Agnes Martin, and Richard Serra.


Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.




The live record


Behind the Scenes: Art world outliers, with Lynne Cooke

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For more on the show “Outliers and American Vanguard Art”

Outliers and American Vanguard Art” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (until 13 May)

National Gallery of Art show integrates the outliers” by Pac Pobric in The Art Newspaper (2 March)

A groundbreaking show presents a new, inclusive vision of American art” by Roberta Smith in The New York Times (15 February)

When artists move from the margins to the center” by James Gibbons in Hyperallergic (10 February)

A huge new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art celebrates outsider artists and their champions” (by Sadie Dingfelder (1 February)

They were once outsiders, but now are embraced as American artists” by Philip Kennicot in The Washington Post (29 January)

Self-taught outsiders looking in” by Susan Delson in The Wall Street Journal (25 January)

 




Where to look


Works from "Outliers and American Vanguard Art"

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