Henry M. Sayre: The Object of Performance The American Avant Garde since 1970



It took me almost a year to read this book Parts of it are extremely dense and demand close reading My endurance tended to run out after fewer than 10 pages Prior knowledge of critical studies would have helped I also wish I had taken notes I m sure I will encounter this material again as I am going to study art at uni in the fallThe artists themselves and their works were very enjoyable to read about I was grateful. Sayre defines for the first time the apparently diffuse avant garde art of the past two decades in terms of its distinctly postmodern concerns The range of arts discussed here encompasses contemporary dance.

REVIEW The Object of Performance The American Avant Garde since 1970

For penetrating coverage of artists I was already familiar with to varying degrees like Laurie Anderson John Cage Lucinda Childs and Carolee Schneemann But I think I most enjoyed the chapter on earth works particularly on the problems posed by Robert Smithson s works including Spiral Jetty and Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan of how documentation affects the presence of the work in our imaginations or us in. Photography oral poetics performance art and earthworks Sayre has written one of the most intelligent sensible and readable accounts of the tenents of Postmodern artmaking published to date Jeff Abell New Ar.

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The works imaginations I feel I learned something valuable about the temporal and spatial nature of work which holds space for the audience to enterdisturbWhile I don t know that I would voluntarily read the book cover to cover again the introductory chapter explaining the shift from formalismmodernism to antiformalismpostmodernism is invaluable alone The rest of the book could serve as thoughtful reference material. T ExaminerNo one can read The Object of Performance without gaining a far better idea than before of what has happened to art and in some measure why I find this book consistently illuminating Arthur C Danto.

Henry M Sayre is a Distinguished Professor of Art History He has written several books on his subjectSayre was born in Boulder Colorado in 1948