High and Low : Modern Art and Popular Culture

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9780870703546: High and Low : Modern Art and Popular Culture
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Excerpt from the Foreword: "High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture" continues a tradition that has been important to The Museum of Modern Art throughout its history: thematic exhibitions that examine the fundamental premises of modern art, and link the innovations of its pioneers to the explorations of younger, contemporary artists. This kind of exhibition is particularly demanding, and the present project, so ambitious and heterogeneous in its scope, was only made possible by the dedication of an extraordinary number of individuals and institutions. Excerpt from the Introduction: Our goal is to examine the transformations through which modern painters and sculptors have made new poetic languages by reimagining the possibilities in forms of popular culture; and, as a corollary, to acknowledge the way those adaptations in modern art have found their way back into the common currency of public visual prose. To demonstrate that process, we will focus on aspects of style, including small items like sans-serif typefaces or Benday dots, and broader strategies such as gigantism or the mind-arresting transformation of objects.

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Narrower in scope than its title suggests, this sprawling, visually riveting catalogue of a traveling exhibition traces the "dialogue" between "high" art (Picasso, Miro, Seurat, etc.) and the streetwise or commercial "low" media of graffiti, caricature, comics and advertising. Picasso transformed sly notebook caricatures into the "high" paintings of his primitive/archaic phase. Claes Oldenburg turned a lipstick tube into a colossal, totemic monument. From cubist newspaper collages to Jenny Holzer's electric-message installations, popular culture has served such modern artists as Jeff Koons, Joseph Cornell and Cy Twombly as a means of recovery of certain high-art traditions. Although the text may be swollen with hype, artspeak and farfetched comparisons, this tome entertains as it informs. Varnedoe is director of paintings and sculpture at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Gopnik is a New Yorker staff writer.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780810960022: High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture

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ISBN 10:  0810960028 ISBN 13:  9780810960022
Publisher: Museum of Modern Art, 1990
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