James Elkins is E.C. Chadbourne Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is author of numerous books, including Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction (2003), What Happened to Art Criticism (2004), and editor of Art and Globalization (2010).
The lecture will introduce James Elkins’ current book project, entitled The Impending Single History of Art: North Atlantic Art History and Its Alternatives. Professor Elkins will propose that despite recent interest in global artistic production, writing about art is characterized by a hegemony of Western theoretical discourses and related practices.
The first part of the lecture will focus on the increasing uniformity of writing about art. Contemporary art is still theorized using thinkers, such as Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Butler and so on. There is virtually no piece of writing that looks to indigenous, local, or regional traditions of philosophy or criticism for its interpretive tools. A similar state of affairs can be observed in art criticism, studio art education, and fiction writing around the world.