top of page
  • Writer's pictureART HISTORY

Research Seminar: John Clark and Terry Smith, Questions of Method....

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

John Clark and Terry Smith, Questions of Method: Where, When, How and Why did Modern Art Become Contemporary?

Join us for this rare opportunity to hear from two leading art historians and Emeritus Professors in the Department of Art History as they discuss Why did Modern Art Become Contemporary?


Date: 17 August 2023, Time: 3-4.30pm AEST. Venue: On campus, Schaeffer Library Seminar Room 210, Mills Building A26, Camperdown Campus and online via Zoom.

Peter Sedgley, Chromosphere, 1967 (detail), University Art Collection, PW1967.22


Terry Smith: Art historical research into art made during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is no longer dominated by what we might call the “mainstream modernism” narrative, one in which developments in the major art centers of Europe and North America, above all Paris and New York, set the agendas for what counted as modern throughout the rest of the world. In recent decades, it has been steadily replaced by a “multiple modernities” picture of art evolving differentially at various art-producing sites around the world that have varying degrees and kinds of connections with the major centres, that may act as centers in their own region, or act mostly according to their own necessities. What are the implications of these changes for our understanding of the nature of the worldwide shifts from modern to contemporary art, ongoing since the 1970s? This is one of several questions that have motivated the art historical thinking of John Clark and Terry Smith, long term colleagues and interlocutors, through several decades. Their conversation will explore this and similar challenges to art historical practice today.

Terry Smith is Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought, European Graduate School, and Faculty at Large, Curatorial Studies Program, School of Visual Arts, New York. He is also Andrew W. Mellon Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, and Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Sydney.

John Clark: Beyond modernity in art and how it became contemporary, art history is faced with the genealogical siting of these approaches in non-Euramerican geographies and within cultures which in many cases were subject to external domination. How is the focus of art history as a set of explanations and descriptions of current and recent art to move beyond its by now habitual exclusions? One way is to look at what artists actually did; another is to listen to what they wrote or said, or find ways of excavating a new archive. I shall attempt to typify some recent approaches which arise from artists and scholars actively concerned with Southeast Asia and see what their intellectual positions involve.

John Clark is Professor Emeritus in Art History at the University of Sydney where he taught for 22 years and retired in 2013. In 2022 he published The Asian Modern from National Gallery of Singapore. He is actively engaged in re-appraising the placement of modern and contemporary art in Euramerican and Asian frames, as well as recently publishing on Southeast Asian Art, including modern painting and literature in Thailand.

52 views1 comment
bottom of page