Cover image for Unsettling "Sensation" : arts-policy lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art controversy
Unsettling "Sensation" : arts-policy lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art controversy
Rothfield, Lawrence, 1956-
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 217 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Essays based on the conference "Taking Funds, Giving Offense, Making Money, " held Feb. 12, 2000, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Introduction: the interests in "sensation" / Lawrence Rothfield -- The Brooklyn controversy: a view from the bridge / Carol Becker -- The marriage of art and business / Richard A. Epstein -- The questions of free speech / Geoffrey R. Stone -- Culture and the constitution: a guide for the perplexed / Cass R. Sunstein -- The false promise of the first amendment / David A. Strauss -- Reasons we shouldn't be here: things we cannot say / Stephen B. Presser -- Who should pay (for the arts and culture), who should decide, and what difference should it make? / J. Mark Schuster -- The subjunctive mood of art / Homi K. Bhabha -- An all-too-predictable sensation / David A. Ross -- Sensational or status quo: museums and public perception / Teri J. Edelstein -- Offending images / W.J.T. Mitchell -- The attitude of the audience for "sensation" and of the general public toward controversial works of art / David Halle, Elisabeth Tiso, and Gihong Yi -- Shop value / John Brewer -- "Sensation" and the ethics of funding exhibitions / James Cuno -- Some sensational reflections / Gilbert S. Edelson -- Don't shoot the messenger: why the art world and the press don't get along / Andrs̀ Szǹt ̤-- Afterword / Kimberly Rorschach
Corporate Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NX730 .U57 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In September 1999, Sensation , an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, opened its doors, igniting a controversy still burning in the art world. This collection of cutting-edge art from the Saatchi collection in England, and the museum's arrangements with Charles Saatchi to finance the show, so offended New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani that he attempted to shut the museum down by withholding city funds that are crucially needed by that institution. Only a legal ruling prevented him from doing so. Like the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition before it, Sensation once again raises questions about public spending for "controversial" art, but with the added dimension of religious conflict and charges of commercialization.

The contributors to this volume use the Sensation exhibition as a stepping-stone to analyze larger questions such as the authority the government has to withhold funds, various interpretations of the First Amendment, how to respect divergent cultural and religious values; and the economic stake of museums and dealers in art. In their articles--written expressly for this volume, and spanning the disciplines of law, cultural studies, public policy, and art--the contributors consider issues at the center of arts policy. They propose various legal strategies, curatorial practices, and standards of doing business intended to serve the public interest in the arts.

Author Notes

Lawrence Rothfield's research focuses broadly on the politics and sociology of culture, and in particular on cultural policy. The founding faculty director of the University's Cultural Policy Center, he has written or edited volumes on topics ranging from censorship and public funding of museums (Unsettling "Sensation": Arts Policy Lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art Controversy), to state-level humanities policy, to the impact of cultural "scenes" on regional urban development. His recent work has concentrated on illicit antiquities and the problem of protecting archaeological sites and museums from looting. Publications on that topic include an edited volume, Antiquities Under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War, and a book on the disastrous failure to secure Iraq's sites and museums from looting in the wake of the 2003 US invasion, The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum. He is currently working on a book about the illicit antiquities market, and a separate project on the origins of modern cultural policy in Renaissance Florence.

Table of Contents

D. Carroll JoynesLawrence RothfieldCarol BeckerRichard A. EpsteinGeoffrey R. StoneCass R. SunsteinDavid A. StraussStephen B. PresserJ. Mark SchusterHomi K. BhabhaDavid A. RossTeri J. EdelsteinW.J.T. MitchellDavid Halle and Elisabeth Tiso and Gihong YiJohn BrewerJames CunoGilbert S. EdelsonAndras SzantoKimerly Rorschach
List of Illustrationsp. IX
Prefacep. XI
Introduction: The Interests in "Sensation"p. 1
Part I Mapping the Minefield
The Brooklyn Controversy: A View from the Bridgep. 15
The Marriage of Art and Businessp. 22
Part II Art and the First Amendment
The Questions of Free Speechp. 29
Culture and the Constitution: A Guide for the Perplexedp. 32
The False Promise of the First Amendmentp. 44
Reasons We Shouldn't Be Here: Things We Cannot Sayp. 52
Who Should Pay (for the Arts and Culture)? Who Should Decide? And What Difference Should It Make?p. 72
Part III Art Off-Limits: Public Respect and the Reading of Art
The Subjunctive Mood of Artp. 93
An All-Too-Predictable Sensationp. 96
Sensational or Status Quo: Museums and Public Perceptionp. 104
Offending Imagesp. 115
The Attitude of the Audience for "Sensation" and of the General Public toward Controversial Works of Artp. 134
Part IV Shock Value: Market-Making for Controversial Art
Shop Valuep. 155
"Sensation" and the Ethics of Funding Exhibitionsp. 162
Some Sensational Reflectionsp. 171
Don't Shoot the Messenger: Why the Art World and the Press Don't Get Alongp. 181
Afterwordp. 199
About the Contributorsp. 207
Indexp. 211