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reassessing “the new art”

by Alec Clayton

I was finishing up my senior year in college in Mississippi and going to graduate school at East Tennessee State University. It was the late 1960s. There was an explosion of new and different art schools-movements-events that in many ways ended what art critics and historians had been presenting as an orderly, chronological evolution of European and American art beginning roughly with the Italian Renaissance and reaching its zenith with the Abstract Expressionists in New York.

For my graduate thesis at ETSU I wrote an analysis of what was going on in the art world at the time. My thesis had the pretentious and highly academic-sounding title A Ground for the New Art: An Alternative to the Frame-Pedestal Aesthetic.

A few years later an art professor who had graduated from the same university said my thesis advisor told him my thesis was the best one ever written in the ETSU Art Department. Needless to say, I was immensely pleased with that.

That was 50 years ago. My wife, Gabi, recently re-read my thesis and said, “We should publish this.” I read it with that in mind and was pleased to discover that—with the exception with a few hyperbolic statements—what the thesis had to say is still mostly accurate, and we think interesting. So we are going to publish it with Mud Flat Press.

No more than two or three copies of the original thesis were printed and hard bound. It was written on a typewriter, so to prepare it for publication I had to re-type the whole thing on my computer and write a forward and an afterword, all of which is completed. I also scanned the photographs that were pasted into the original and added a few more. I had to omit a few photos because they were of artworks that we do not have the right to reproduce.

I’m giving it a new title – yet to be determined – but will retain the original title as an “originally titled as . . .” on the interior title page.

Watch for publication announcement. Coming soon.

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