Terry Smith to discuss contemporary art and global change at Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Oct. 13

The phrase “modern art” has been widely used for more than a century. Indeed, in that time it has become so associated with historical movements — from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Conceptual art — that it has ceased to describe the many new and different forms being made today.

So argues Terry Smith, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh. At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, Smith will explore the topic in a lecture titled “Contemporary Art and the Contemporaneity Question.”

Terry Smith
Terry Smith

Sponsored by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the talk is free and open to the public and takes place in Steinberg Hall Auditorium, located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards. A reception for Smith will precede the talk, at 6 p.m., in the Kemper Art Museum, located immediately adjacent to Steinberg.

For more information, call (314) 935-4523 or email kemperartmuseum@wustl.edu.

“There is a widespread and growing sense that many significant — perhaps even epochal — changes are occurring in the world today, and that certain kinds of contemporary art seem closely connected with these changes, whereas other art seems concerned above all with itself,” Smith explains. “This lecture will explore the idea that the concept of ‘contemporaneity’ is more useful than ideas of the ‘modern,’ including the postmodern, if we are to understand these global changes accurately.”

A native of Australia, Smith is a former member of Art & Language, the influential Conceptual art group, and a founder of Union Media Services, a design studio specializing in community-based art initiatives. He currently serves on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. He also serves as a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Sydney.

Smith has published extensively on modernism and contemporary art, as well as on Australian visual arts and architecture. He is the author of The Architecture of Aftermath (2006), which explores how, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, global politics, clashing cultures and symbolic warfare changed the way we experience “destination” architecture.

Other books include Making the Modern: Industry, Art and Design in America (1993) as well as Transformations in Australian Art, volume 1, The Nineteenth Century: Landscape, Colony and Nation, and volume 2, The Twentieth Century: Modernism and Aboriginality (both 2002). He also is editor of In Visible Touch: Modernism and Masculinity (1997); First People, Second Chance: The Humanities and Aboriginal Australia (1999); Impossible Presence: Surface and Screen in the Photogenic Era (2001); Jacques Derrida, Deconstruction Engaged: The Sydney Seminars (with Paul Patton, 2001) and Contemporary Art Philanthropy (2007).

Smith’s current projects include What is Contemporary Art?, a study of three approaches to the question posed by the title, as well as Contemporary Art: World Currents, forthcoming from Laurence King Publishers, and The Mass Production Imaginary, a study of the visual imaginations of the engineers Frederick Taylor and George Richardson.


WHO: Terry Smith, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh

WHAT: Lecture

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13; Reception at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Steinberg Hall Auditorium, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards. Reception in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, immediately adjacent to Steinberg

COST: Free

SPONSOR: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

INFORMATION: (314) 935-4523 or kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu