sfai news

July 13, 2011

SFAI presents 25th Annual Art Criticism Conference

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, SFAI’s Art Criticism Conference acquaints participants with the contemporary practice of writing about art in its many poetic and professional functions, as well as with art-historical practice. The 2011 Art Criticism Conference is coordinated by Mark Van Proyen, art critic and Associate Professor in SFAI’s Painting Department.

Complementing a week-long seminar for enrolled students are three free public events, held at the 800 Chestnut Street campus:

Oscar Wilde, The Critic As Artist
Tuesday, August 9, 7:30 pm

In 1890, Oscar Wilde published a quartet of plays under the title of Intentions, one of which was The Critic as Artist. Full of witty repartee, the play is a philosophical dialogue that takes the role of criticism as its subject. It makes provocative claims about the importance of criticism to art, as well as why criticism should be something more than journalism. Over one hundred years after its initial publication, the issues raised by this play still resonate, and in many ways the play anticipates the philosophical orientations of many postmodern critics.

For eight years, SFAI’s summer Art Criticism Conference has staged a public reading of Wilde’s famous play as part of its annual inquiry into the state of art criticism. Actor and teacher Clayton B. Hodges, currently of Sierra Repertory Theatre, directs the reading, and will also perform along with Nick Childress, a graduate of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program.

“Growing Up an Art Critic”: Bill Berkson in conversation with Jeannene Przyblyzki
Thursday, August 11, 7:30 pm 

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Art Criticism Conference, conference founder and Professor Emeritus Bill Berkson will join Dean Jeannene Przyblyski in a dialogue about his career as an art writer, and his original founding of the conference.

Bill Berkson is a widely published poet and critic who from 1984 to 2008 was professor of Liberal Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute. He is a corresponding editor for Art in America and a contributor to such other journals as Artforum and Aperture. In 2003, Qua Press published a selection of his critical writings titled The Sweet Singer of Modernism and other Art Writings 1985-2003, and in 2008 Cuneiform Press issued his Sudden Address: Selected Lectures 1981-2006. In a recent review in The Nation of Berkson's newest book, For the Ordinary Artist: Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces and More (BlazeVOX Books, 2011), Barry Schwabsky wrote: "[Berkson’s] reviews, especially, should be required reading for any budding art critic. He shows how the job should be done." 

Keynote Speaker: Molly Nesbit
Friday, August 12, 7:30 pm

Molly Nesbit is a Professor of Art History at Vassar College and a contributing editor of Artforum. Her books include Atget’s Seven Albums (Yale University Press, 1992) and Their Common Sense (Black Dog, 2000). Midnight, the Tempest Essays, a collection of her essays on contemporary art, will be published this year by Periscope Press. Since 2002, together with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija, she has been organizing Utopia Station, an ongoing book, exhibition, seminar, website, and street project.