“Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph”

While in Chicago last week, I visited the exhibition “Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-77” at the Art Institute. It’s a remarkable show. Although its argument about the role of Conceptual Art in bringing the photography “definitively into the mainstream of contemporary art” is debatable, it succeeds in several other arenas: first, as an exhibition of conceptually oriented objects that is neither dry nor didactic; second, as a sketch of the precedents available to the artists included in Douglas Eklund’s 2009 exhibition “The Pictures Generation”; third, as an eloquent testimonial to the importance of southern and eastern European art to the histories of Conceptualism (a reclamation project spurred on a decade ago by Jane Farer’s wonderful “Global Conceptualism” exhibition). “Light Years,” curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky, is on view in Chicago until March 11, and I highly recommend it. The catalogue, too, is well done, and available for more than forty percent off at Amazon. For those who can’t visit, Witkovsky published a reconsideration of photographic abstraction in the March 2010 Artforum, the text of which is available here.