Farrelly to co-chair “Global Art History: Historical Connection”

At the 103rd Annual College Art Association (CAA) Conference, Gwen Farrelly (Director, Global Partners & Programs) will co-chair, with Rosemary O’Neill, the panel “Global Art History: Historical Connection” to explore the legacies of the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre (1989).

In 1989, Jean-Hubert Martin led a team of curators to organize what is arguably the landmark exhibition of trans-national art at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villete in Paris, initiating a concerted attempt at devising a broad framework for global contemporary art.

The exhibition succeeded in provoking debates about definitions of representation, identity, hierarchy, geographic dominance, and western conceptions of traditional cultures. While the objective of this exhibition was to place all of the works in this exhibition on the same level by eliminating geographical categorization or comparative couplings of Western art with traditional or tribal societies, the critical reception of the exhibition revealed the lack of curatorial/critical/scholarly tools necessary to alter models of Western visual and conceptual perspectives on ethnographic representations, notions of exoticism, aesthetic expectations, and an inability to account for contemporary production within traditional cultures.

The purpose of this panel is not to rehearse these initial contestations, but rather to consider from the standpoint of a quarter century later, how scholars and critics have addressed the need for new methodologies, theories, and innovative perspectives necessary to further shape a contemporary global art history and the critical pitfalls, even in an increasingly global contemporary culture, that remain.

College Art Association, Global Partners & Programs, Gwen Farrelly, Jean-Hubert Martin