Acts of Engagement brings together writings spanning the extraordinarily eventful ten-year after the author left The New York Times, where he had been an art critic from 1982 to 1991. The writings fall into three broad areas: art, art criticism, and arts and cultural institutions. In each area, Brenson finds it imperative to consider issues such as responsibility, creativity, process, and voice - issues that have taken on increasing urgency as corporate culture has overcome almost every aspect of American life. If we are to understand and come to terms with the violent shift from multiculturalism to privatization and the difficult if not precarious situation American art and culture are now in, we must engage the key words that define the book's four sections: language, identity, audience, and power.
Michael Brenson is on the faculty at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College. He lives in Accord, New York.
Part 1 Part I: Language Chapter 2 Fighting Words Chapter 3 Experience, Complicity, and Quality Chapter 4 Conversation Chapter 5 Juan Munoz: Sound, Sight, Statuary Chapter 6 Art Criticism and the Aesthetic Response Part 7 Part II: Identity Chapter 8 Where Do We Go from Here? The Place of the Artist and the NEA Chapter 9 Resisting the Dangerous Journey: The Crisis of Journalistic Criticism Chapter 10 Art Museums and The Public Chapter 11 The Curator's Moment Chapter 12 The Artist as Person Part 13 Part III: Audience Chapter 14 Healing in Time Chapter 15 Audience, Artist, Institution, Community Chapter 16 Maya Lin's Time Chapter 17 Sometimes Out of Sight, Never Out of Mind: The Story of the Hand in Modernist Sculpture Chapter 18 Giacometti's Dog Part 19 Part IV: Power Chapter 20 Power Corrupts: For Daumier, Humanity Was in the Streets Chapter 21 Magdalena Abakanowicz's War Games: Monumental Horizontality Chapter 22 The Media and Museums Chapter 23 Convenience and Process: Private versus Public Arts Funding Chapter 24 The Guggenheim, Corporate Populism, and the Future of the Corporate Museum