Cover image for The end of the art world
The end of the art world
Morgan, Robert C., 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Allworth Press : Copublished with the School of Visual Arts, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxii, 225 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6490 .M676 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The most significant change in the art world over the past two decades has not been the evolution of a new style or movement but in how art is promoted and marketed. After prices accelerated in the 1980s, today's art world is beginning to look more like a multi-national corporation than a cultural institution.

Acclaimed critic, poet, and historian Robert C. Morgan argues for a new qualitative standard in art, not only in painting and sculpture, but also in literature, music, video, photography, conceptual art, and installations. Poignantly and powerfully written, he calls for an end to the art world as we know it, a world governed by the trends of fashion, media, and popular entertainment, and proposes a return to aesthetics and a new inner-directedness in art.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Early on, Morgan (Between Modernism and Conceptual Art) contends that the "experience of the work of art is the fundamental ingredient in one's critical response, the foundation for any authentic interpretation." The experience of reading these essays, then, is one of initial bewilderment, increasing frustration and eventual resignation to vague, obscure language passing itself off as bracing straight talk. While Morgan's call for direct observation and his attack on the incursion of theory into criticism and into the studio may elicit sympathy, his writing itself is saturated with the very terminology and syntax he purports to disdain. Moreover, he deploys the all-too-familiar semiotic and poststructuralist jargon with a marked lack of dexterity (although he is professor of the history and theory of art at the Rochester Institute of Technology). Has he failed to digest his sources? A more charitable explanation would be that his heart is not in critical theory, but rather in the search for quality and an inner-directed tendency in contemporary art. Yet when he discusses specific works, the reader is often left high and dry, for instance, trying to unravel exactly why Morgan experienced "a reverberation of thought and mystery elevated to the level of profound feeling" in viewing Vija Celmins's paintings. Though some of his positions could be taken as "conservative," he does not appear motivated by ideology. In the end, what he can offer the patient reader is a highly subjective window on the American art scene of the past four decades. B&w illustrations. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved