The Visual Studies Research Institute and the USC Department of Art History are pleased to present The Contemporary Seminar Series, a forum on contemporary practice and scholarship in art. This series, ongoing throughout the academic year (2017-2018), will bring together students from Dornsife, Roski, and the Visual Studies graduate program to participate as academic peers in dialogue with leading figures from the fields of contemporary art history, curatorial practice, and critical art writing. The Seminar Series is a rare opportunity for intimate exchange with the author of an idea, alongside a group comprised of diverse visual practitioners. This series is organized by Suzanne Hudson, Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts (USC).

Spring 2017 Events

“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present”

Thursday, March 9

The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) in the United States in nearly 50 years, this long overdue presentation reveals a utopian artist who believed that art could work hand-in-hand with technology for the betterment of humanity. Moholy-Nagy: Future Present examines the career of this pioneering painter, photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker as well as graphic, exhibition, and stage designer, who was also an influential teacher at the Bauhaus, a prolific writer, and later the founder of Chicago’s Institute of Design. The exhibition includes more than 250 works in all media from public and private collections across Europe and the United States, some of which have never before been shown publicly in the U.S.

“Didactic Arts”

Wednesday, February 22

Sven Spieker
University of California, Santa Barbara

Spieker will be speaking about what he calls “Didactic Arts.” He is interested in instances where we accept that art, explicitly or implicitly, teaches us something. At a time when neither formal innovation nor social engagement seem able to ground artistic practice fully, it may be time to rehabilitate the idea that we can/need to learn from or through art. Spieker will be discussing both historical and more conceptual/theoretical aspects of this problem.

Fall 2016 Events

“Speculations: Art and Real Estate in Global LA”

Monday, October 24

Susanna Newbury
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Susanna Newbury (Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Nevada-Las Vegas) addresses the complex network of artists, philanthropists, and institutions whose speculative intersections of art and real estate helped build Los Angeles into a global capital of culture and commerce in the late twentieth century.

“Doug Aitken: Electric Earth”

Wednesday, November 16
The Geffen Contemporary at MoCA

Doug Aitken: Electric Earth, Aitken’s first North American survey, is organized by MOCA as a full collaboration and dialogue with the artist.

Spring 2016 Events

Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness

Friday, February 19

Steve Nelson

Structural Adjustment investigates the visual practices of artists Mark Bradford, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Houston Conwill, Moshekwa Langa, and Julie Mehretu, who use mapping and geography to produce works of unique power and complexity that reshape our understanding of, among other things, African ancestry, notions of diaspora, and urban spaces.

Retrospective as Exhibition Methodology: A Case Study of Jimmie Durham

Friday, April 1

Anne Ellegood
Hammer Museum

Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator at the Hammer Museum, will discuss her forthcoming retrospective of the work of Jimmie Durham (b. 1940, Washington, Arkansas). Living in exile since 1986, Durham had long refused to do a major show in the United States. Ellegood will discuss the (sometimes lengthy) process of developing a relationship and working with an artist on an exhibition that considers a long career within complex political, artistic, geographic, and personal contexts. She will touch upon the genesis of the exhibition and the conditions for research, as well as her process for determining curatorial approaches to the installation and catalogue.