David Getsy

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 10:00 am

VCUarts Depot: 814 W. Broad St. Richmond, VA

David J. Getsy is the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His research focuses on the history of sculpture and performance, with an emphasis on the constitutive role that genders and sexualities play the making and the viewing of art. His books include Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905 (Yale 2004), Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (Yale 2010), Scott Burton: Collected Writings on Art and Performance, 1965-1975 (Soberscove 2012), Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (Yale 2015), and most recently the anthology of artists’ writings, Queer, for the Whitechapel Gallery’s “Documents of Contemporary Art” book series (MIT 2016). He is currently writing a book about Scott Burton’s performance art of the 1970s and is curating the retrospective exhibition Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble that opens in September 2018 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

On Being a Public Artist with AIDS in 1980s America:
Scott Burton, Sculpture, and Conformational Masking
by David J. Getsy:
“One of the most prominent sculptors of the 1980s, Scott Burton’s (1939-1989) functional, participatory works were welcomed into public spaces and museum collections during the decade. These sculptures were built upon his previous work in performance art and its queer engagements with themes of social and personal space. In this lecture, David Getsy will chart the strategic camouflage Burton deployed in the 1980s as he started making public art and navigating its institutions. Burton’s aim was to create an anti-elitist and democratic form of art, and his aspirations were inspired by queer and feminist critique. His deceptively simple sculptures infiltrated public and museum spaces successfully, but they also register the impact of larger political realities of the AIDS crisis and the 1980s Culture Wars. This lecture will discuss the obstacles to being a queer artist making public art and track both the personal and art-theoretical stakes of Burton’s attempt to make works that transcended barriers of class, that performed a queer critique of social space, and that modeled democratic and egalitarian relations.”

image: David Getsy during a public dialogue with sculptor Nancy Grossman, discussing Grossman’s “Mummy” 1965. (Photo: Sean Fader, 2015)

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