Michael Brenson – An introduction
Michael Brenson is a highly recognized and respected art critic.
Now working as an independent critic in New York, from 1982 to
1991 he wrote about art for the New York Times. There he gained
a reputation as a critic who called attention to pressing artistic
and cultural issues and created a forum for them within the newspaper.
By 1990, he had become identified with particular fields and issues:
sculpture, both modern and contemporary; the insularity of the
New York art world; an engagement with art institutions that included
asking questions about why they show what they show and do what
they do; and the sometimes productive and often terrible tension
between American artists and society. By the summer of 1991, he
realized that his need to explore and deal with these issues could
no longer be accommodated within the approaches to art and culture
in the newspaper.
In the last dozen years he has taught both curators and artists
(Bard College) and curated five exhibitions. He organized a national
conference on art and culture for The Rockefeller Foundation and
panels for the National Gallery of Art (on art criticism) and the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (on modern sculpture). He has lectured
at numerous museums and given keynote addresses on sculpture, arts
policy, and public art. He was a visiting scholar at the Getty
Research Institute in the fall of 1999. His analysis of the natures
and purposes of art criticism itself has significantly contributed
to the contemporary art dialogue. He is currently the Avery Fellow
in Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts.
Michael Brenson is the Fall 2004 Arts Institute Interdisciplinary
Artist in Residence at the UW–Madison, his residency sponsored
by the Elvehjem Museum of Art and cosponsored by the Department
of Art, Department of Art
History, Department of
School of Journalism
and Mass Communication.
During the 2004 fall semester Brenson will teach a course, Critical
Issues in Art Criticism from Rodin Through the Present, under the
auspices of the Department of Art History. This interdisciplinary
course will emphasize and make use of the breadth and depth of
writing on art during the past one hundred and twenty-five years,
and is intended to appeal to majors in Journalism, English, Philosophy,
Art and Art History. In addition, Brenson will make himself available
to conduct studio visits to MFA students in the Department of Art.
On November 11 Brenson will give the keynote lecture for a symposium
on contemporary art criticism, “Criticism, History and Power,” to
be held November 12, 2004, at the Elvehjem Museum of Art. Brenson
has invited recognized art critics, artists and curators to participate.