Art History as Social Praxis

The Collected Writings of David Craven


Art History as Social Praxis: The Collected Writings of David Craven brings together more than thirty essays that chart the development of Craven’s voice as an unorthodox Marxist who applied historical materialism to the study of modern art. This book demonstrates the range and versatility of David Craven’s praxis as a ‘democratic socialist’ art historian who assessed the essential role the visual arts play in imagining more just and equitable societies. The essays collected here reveal Craven’s lifelong commitment to exposing interstices between western and non-western cultures by researching the reciprocating influences between First- and Third-World artists, critics and historians.

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David Lee Craven, Ph.D. (1979), University of North Carolina, was Distinguished Professor at University of New Mexico and passed away in 2012. He was an art historian who displayed rare intellect and industry. In his lifetime Craven wrote more than fifteen monographs and exhibition catalogues on such diverse topics as Diego Rivera, Abstract Expressionism, Rudolf Baranik and art associated with Latin American revolutions. In addition to being a dedicated professor and inspirational lecturer, he published over 150 essays, articles and reviews in such academic journals as Art History, Kritische Berichte and Third Text and mass-circulation publications such as Arts Magazine and Tema Celeste; further, his writings have appeared in dozens of anthologies, encyclopaedias and newspapers.

Brian Winkenweder, Ph.D. (2004), Stony Brook University is Professor of Art History at Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon. He co-edited Dialectical Conversions: Donald Kuspit’s Art Criticism with David Craven (Liverpool University Press, 2011). He also published 'David Craven’s Future Perfect' at the online journal Third Text.
List of Sources

Introduction: David Craven, Democratic Socialism and Art History


1 Mondrian De-Mythologised: Towards a Newer Virgil

2 Charles Biederman and Art Theory

3 Marcel Duchamp and the Perceptual Dimension of Conceptual Art

4 Robert Smithson’s ‘Liquidating Intellect’

5 Richard Serra and the Phenomenology of Perception

6 Hans Haacke and the Aesthetics of Dependency Theory

7 Norman Lewis as Political Activist and Post-Colonial Artist

8 René Magritte and the Spectre of Commodity Fetishism

Art Critics

9 Ruskin vs. Whistler: The Case against Capitalist Art

10 The Critique-Poésie of Thomas Hess

11 John Berger as Art Critic

12 Meyer Schapiro, Karl Korsch, and the Emergence of Critical Theory

13 Clement Greenberg and the ‘Triumph’ of Western Art

14 Aesthetics as Ethics in the Writings of Robert Motherwell and Meyer Schapiro

Critical Theory

15 Prerequisites for a New Criticism

16 Herbert Marcuse on Aesthetics

17 Corporate Capitalism and South Africa

18 Popular Culture versus Mass Culture

19 Hegemonic Art History

20 Art History and the Challenge of Post-Colonial Modernism

21 C.L.R. James as a Critical Theorist of Modernist Art

22 Present Indicative Politics and Future Perfect Positions: Barack Obama and Third Text

Latin America

23 Formative Art and Social Transformation: The Nicaraguan Revolution on Its Tenth Anniversary (1979–1989)

24 Cuban Art and the Democratisation of Culture

25 The Latin American Origins of Alternative Modernism

26 Post-Colonial Modernism in the Work of Diego Rivera and José Carlos Mariátegui

27 Realism Revisited and Re-Theorised in ‘Pan-American’ Terms

Abstract Expressionism

28 Abstract Expressionism, Automatism, and the Age of Automation

29 Abstract Expressionism and Third World Art: A Post-Colonial Approach to ‘American’ Art

30 New Documents: The Unpublished F.B.I. Files on Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb

31 A Legacy for the Left: Abstract Expressionism as Anti-Imperialist Art

32 Postscript. Different Conceptions of Art: An Outline

All interested in Post-Colonial studies and Marxist-inflected cultural analysis, with particular regard for Critical Theory, Latin American art history and Abstract Expressionism.
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