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Ivan Gaskell
Professor, Bard Graduate Center

“Can Art Museums Accommodate both Art and Philosophy?

Through the case study of the Panza Collection Initiative at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, this paper explores the question of whether art museum scholarship can address disinterested philosophical questions regarding the status of items in the museum’s collection. What are the tensions within art museums between institutional interest and disinterested philosophical inquiry? Are the institutional constraints within art museums such that scholarship conducted within them predominantly addresses practical matters with a view to safeguarding the status of items that the museum has acquired? Looking at instances of the contested status of items associated with artists including Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris, acquired by the museum in 1991-92 from the collectors Giovanna and Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, this paper suggests that the exemplary museum team research effort led by a curator and a conservator with equal status (the Panza Collection Initiative) is achieving a great deal, but perhaps inevitably leaves ontological issues regarding these and other items only partially addressed, and unresolved.

Tuesday, September 15, 12:15 pm

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