Practice in Art Criticism

Lecture by Helmut Draxler
January 24th, 2013

Art criticism today can’t exclusively be concerned with the description and classification of works of art any more. Rather art criticism has to reflect on the terms and conditions of the artistic field, that have dramatically changed since the 1980s and which at least co-determine what and under which conditions is to be considered as a work of art. Many actors even deny this question of validity and directly claim their own practice to be research, critique, activism, a medial or pop cultural intervention or some kind of investment. Art criticism increasingly seems to be in great demand to reflect on such claims and to contextualize them within the actual conditions of production and its institutional presentations. This necessitates a historical approach to contemporary art that does not rely on modernist or avantgardist narratives but that seizes the particular practices and phenomena within their own logic, purposes and contexts.

Helmut Draxler, born 1956 in Graz, is a Berlin based art historian, cultural theorist and curator who is writing frequently about issues related to the theory and practice of contemporary art. From 1992-1995 he was the director of Kunstverein München and from 1999-2012 professor for aesthetic theory at the Merz Akademie, Hochschule für Gestaltung in Stuttgart. In 2012 he accepted a call for a professorship in art theory and mediation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg. From 2004-2006 he has been participating in the project »Avantgarde, Film and Biopolitics« together with Sabeth Buchmann and Stephan Geene at the Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht. Currently Helmut Draxler is focussing on a theory of mediation and the idea of history in the historiography of modern and contemporary art.