On the Art of the Future

A series of lectures examining art, anti-art and the concept of scandalous beauty in contemporary criticism and culture


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy / Theory


Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Kelly Writer's House
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "On the Art of the Future," a lecture series featuring distinguished art historians and theorists exploring the relation between ethics, beauty and scandal in contemporary culture and criticism, including the work of artists and anti-artists such as Adolf Loos, Stephen Powers, and Andy Warhol.

In April 2000, Alex Baker will present "Indelible Market: TWIST, ESPO, and REAS." In November 2001, Richard Shusterman will present "Art as Dramatization." In January 2002, Joseph Masheck will present" Loos and Fine Art: A Scandalous Beauty from the Anti-Artist of Architecture." The following month, in February 2002, Catherine Liu will present "To Catch a Falling Star: Lacan Meets Warhol." The series will continue with "Art versus Philosophy," a conversation with Joe Margolis, Osvaldo Romberg and Jean-Michel Rabaté in March 2003, followed by "On the Art of the Future," a lecture by Susan Stewart in April 2003.

The series will continue with "The City as Art-Work of the 21st Century" by Diane Lewis, followed by a conversation with Deborah Gans. Mind to Matter, Lewis's forthcoming book, includes projects and essays on the issue of contemporary form and siting generated by a literary reading of the city plan. This work informs the specific lecture that she will present at Slought, which engages the literary parallels between surrealism and 20 century architecture.

The series concludes with a conversation with Wendy Steiner exploring her research on Western society's emphasis on modeling, and will feature Steiner in conversation with Jeffrey E. Green, Jim English, and Jean-Michel Rabaté. Why do so many contemporary visual artists use models--often themselves--when for much of the twentieth-century, explicitly model-based representation was relatively uncommon? What is a model, and what role do models play in the creative process? How are contemporary artists exploring the ethical potential of culture through the idea of modeling? What happens to art when virtually everything is virtual? In The Real Real Thing: The Model in the Mirror of Art, Steiner explores these questions among others and in doing so asserts that the symbolic importance of the model has much to teach us about the contemporary human condition well beyond the confines of 'art'. Connecting self-objectifiction and our society's emphasis on the visual--ours is a 'culture of the gaze'--modeling holds a rich ethical potential for understanding the domains of media saturation and virtuality. As both real and artificial, the model is a paradoxical icon of our contemporary moment, and can be found in a vast array of public figures. From celebrities, to bloggers, and even avatars, all in some way can be understood in relation to this issue of modeling. As the body politic becomes fundamentally artificial, to raise the question of the model is to think through the major questions and ironies that define our present moment.

These dialogues will inform the development of Slought as an institution.

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Alex Baker has been the Associate Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia since 1997 and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Visual Anthropology Program, Temple University.

Deborah Gans is a partner in the office of Gans & Jelacic, Architecture and Design and a Professor in architecture at the Pratt Institute.

Catherine Liu is the Director of the Humanities Center and a professor of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Diane Lewis is a Professor of Architecture at The Cooper Union. She has accomplished highly articulate constructed works in an independent practice for over 25 years.

Joseph Margolis is Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy at Temple University and the past president of the American Society for Aesthetics.

Joseph Masheck received a PhD from Columbia University under Rudolf Wittkower and Dorothea Nyberg. A former editor-in-chief of Artforum, he has taught at Columbia, Harvard and Hofstra.

Richard Shusterman is currently Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Temple University, Philadelphia and at the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris.

Wendy Steiner is the Richard L. Fisher Professor of English and Founding Director of the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania.

Susan Stewart is a poet and critic, and a Professor of English at Princeton University.