Subject matters


Sleepwalker by Tony Matelli at the Wellesley college’s Davis Museum. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

By placing art out of the gallery it exists removed from its expected context. A lifelike sculpture out of the gallery is also a deviation from the form many think of when they think of public art – it seems large metal sculptures are more appropriate in landscapes than mostly naked men, especially if the landscape is a college campus. This sleep walker is probably trying to find his way back to the museum.

In the introduction to the 1999 exhibition catalog, Abracadabra: International Contemporary Art, Catherine Kinley explains the fascination between the real and the artificial. “This publicly personal art challenges assumptions about the power of the virtual over the real in a world where it is thought increasingly difficult to distinguish one from the other. A decade ago, artists had begun to doubt that the real could still be easily identified. Their art was made in the context of propositions by post-modern critics and philosophers who were examining the effects of the proliferation of electronic media and the power of the information explosion. In the 1950s and 1960s advertising and film, earlier manifestations of the information age, had been co-opted and celebrated by artists. Later, television, video and computers offered new possibilites for art but were also seen as having the power to dull ‘real’ experience and to fuse the real and the imaginary. The palpable world appeared impenetrable and opaque. A common response – whether a symptom of resignation or a strategic act of alliance – was to mimic this new artificiality.”


Untitled, by Maurizio Cattelan, 2004


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