Andrea Fraser

I remember in Artforum a few years ago a piece on institutional critique by Andrea Fraser, and also remember being underwhelmed. To me it seemed conventional, a reiteration of familiar insights, without the enlightening shock of work by Buren, Asher or Haacke. Perhaps because the last few years I’ve been so involved with normative painting, I now find Fraser’s writings a lot more interesting. The truth is always welcome. But it’s still impossible to accept that the sorry manipulations of the collecting class are the final truth about painting. The truth for every artist is that life is always a failing effort against chaos—and society is mass delusion, however much it is the enabler for anything one wants to do. Fraser herself is not outside the struggle, as she well understands. She deserves her success because she worked for it very intelligently, and in the end she is just another artist. But if so, then the critique of the kind of subjectivity produced by art—artist and viewer—is not so compelling. The need to sell something in order to live is the final truth about art and society, and I don’t see how one can escape that through critique.

Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk 1989

Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk 1989

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