"I was thinking of a book, but I didn’t like that idea."
--- Marcel Duchamp
Courbet’s monumental painting The Artist’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing up Seven Years of My Artistic Life attempted to represent the world coming to the artist in his studio. In this work shown outside the official grounds of the Universal Exhibition of 1855, Courbet divided his world of representation between the "shareholders," his supporters, and that to which he was opposed, "misery, poverty, wealth, the exploited and the exploiters, the people who live off death." While for Courbet the challenge may have been to make a statement in the shadows of the Second Empire’s showcase of national and international progress, for me the task has been far more modest in scale. My ‘virtual allegory’ sifts through the themes, thinkers, and texts that have preoccupied my intellectual life during the past seven years. This task also has been a matter of thinking through how these themes and thinkers haunt my own writing and how the work of several of my artistic colleagues have played a role in my continued engagement with these ideas since graduating from Bryn Mawr College.
The tenuous and open-ended moment of this process, represented through this site, operates in at least four ways. First, as a nonlinear work comprised of quotes, texts, and images that offer a reconfiguration of my past work into new relations of interconnections. The texts represent a sketch for a book or possibly a book of sketches, as well as a questioning of the nature of the book today both virtually and allegorically. Second, as a research tool built around the themes and thinkers presented within the site. The pages of quotes are at once collages of text and starting points for future textual collages. Third, as a virtual gallery featuring the work of eight Philadelphia artists. In addition to the work of these colleagues, students, and interlocutors, there are photographs dispersed throughout the site that relate to the texts presented. This virtual gallery is open to future installations and exhibitions. Lastly, it is a journey offered to the browser. This journey may begin from any of the images in the opening collage or through the pull-down menu. The user may journey from within the site through specific sets of interrelated links or jump to any area within the site through the use of the internal pull-down menu. In practice and theory, the site offers a unique and particular journey for each visit and visitor, as the more that one explores the more one will discover within the site. The result of the user’s journey is not a conclusive end, but rather a beginning, a process of negotiating through the texts and images provided towards a future where the user may arrive at her own particular understanding of the experience that awaits.
In closing and opening, let me acknowledge that all too few of my supporters from the past seven years appear within this site. Indeed, to acknowledge all of my supporters would be an interminable task. Nevertheless, I would like to thank the Center for Visual Culture and Lisa Kolonay for the support and opportunity to undertake this project. I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues at Bryn Mawr College, including David Cast, Dale Kinney, Christiane Hertel, and Lisa Saltzman, for all of their help over the years. I would also like to acknowledge the memory of Phyllis Bober, whose conversations on an extraordinary breadth of topics echo within my consciousness. Most of all, I would like to thank Steven Levine. Without his help and advice my intellectual life would be greatly impoverished.
Questions, comments, and discussions around particular topics are encouraged and may be directed to and may be directed to Kevin Richards: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time.
E-mail addresses for artists featured in "Art Historian's Studio":
Paul Hubbard- email@example.com
Martha Gelarden- firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Oh- Rome520@aol.com
Doug Bucci- email@example.com
Nora Litz- Mazapantli@aol.com
Melissa D'Agostino- firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Dufala- email@example.com
Billy Dufala- firstname.lastname@example.org