Ben Davis’s 10 Must-Read Art Essays From July 2015

Still from NerdWriter's video "Understanding Art: The Large Bathers."
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Body of Work” by William Gass, Art Papers
Gass recounts his decision to leave writing about art for nursing school. The result is both personal essay and theoretical treatise on the moral imperative and therapeutic vocation of art criticism.

Wang Luyan, <em>Tactile Art</em> (1988

Crimes Without a Scene: Qian Weikang and the New Measurement Group,” Liu Ding & Carol Yinghua Lu, e-flux Journal/Supercommunity
Recovering a bit of recent art history, the authors track down China’s near-forgotten and new-to-me New Measurements Group, which seems to have vanished into thin air under the pressure of its own far-out artistic logic.

A Fearful Frenzy: The Art Market Now” by Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker 
Enjoy Schjeldahl’s Olympian, debate-starting thesis statement on what the current art market boom means (and doesn’t mean).

Forces to Be Reckoned With” by Michelle Wright, Artforum
A complex examination, passing through Langston Hughes and Darby English, of the multitudes contained within the concept of “Black art,” from the author of the Physics of Blackness.

How is the artist or writer to function (survive and produce) in the community, outside of institutions?,” by Sesshu Foster, East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines
A passionate, angry poem-as-essay about the “bureaucratic cult” of academia, race and class in L.A., and artists’ debts to the communities around them.

Nicole Eisenman, <em>Three Women</em>

Irony, Sincerity… Is There a Third Pill?” by Angela DuFresne, Art21
DuFresne uses gender theory’s reimagining of the body to propose some new ideas about what a “body of work” might mean in contemporary art, with considerations of Shelia Pepe, Nicole Eisenman, Glenn Goldberg, John Waters, and, yes, Caitlyn Jenner.

A image from Google "Deep Dream" Photo: via Hopes and Fears

Is Google’s Deep Dream Art?,” Hopes and Fears
A bit of a cheat, since I am one of the respondents in this piece. But the other reactions to Google’s wacky bit of wizardry, from ArtFCity’s Paddy Johnson, Prosthetic Knowledge‘s Rich Oglesby, and artist Anthony Antonellis are also well worth processing.

Museums’ disturbing transformation: relentless commercialization” by Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times 
An alarmed report from the fast-eroding frontier between commerce and scholarship in the non-profit museum world.

A New Word on the Internet” by Betsy Morais, The New Yorker
Artist Julia Weist discovered a word that had never been seen before online—“parbunkells”—and then put it on a Queens billboard. Morais traces what happened next, an amusing parable of how information circulates in the ultra-wired present.

<em>New York</em> magazine cover

An Open Letter to the National Museum of African Art Regarding Bill Cosby” by Jillian Steinhauer, Hyperallergic
In the wake of New York magazine’s feature spotlighting the voices of Cosby’s victims, Steinhauer keeps the pressure on National Museum of African Art over its celebration of the now-toxic entertainer.

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