Several years ago, inspired by the Brooklyn Historical Society’s award-winning project devoted to teaching effectively with primary sources, I began to consider a radical idea—that the Archives of American Art be included, in some way, in every single undergraduate course and graduate seminar in the history of American art.
By making his reflexive bodily movements the sole source as well as the transcriber of his ideas, Anastasi mobilized the concept of know-how, or techne. . . . His drawing practice helped him reconcile two emerging identities: one as a dedicated, ambitious artist and the other as an untrained amateur Conceptualist.
Bush’s painting and its presentation demonstrate how difficult it can be to determine the difference between the canny critical interventions of a professional artist and those of an amateur.
During the 1910s, amateur art was inflected with aesthetic and political radicalism and yet was also deeply American; at the same time, it challenged the genteel tradition of the nineteenth century and redefined a national spirit in the arts while remaining on the cutting edge of modern philosophy and an international avant-garde.
In each of the examples studied in this essay, artists deployed an affected lack of virtuosity in their early video artworks to confront established hierarchies—in short, to establish video as a radical medium.
By recovering the motivation of love that set aloft the freedom in Morgan to determine her artistic path—that which she voiced in terms of the pleasures of intimacy with God—we witness how amateurism operates as a critical position committed to other allegiances and defined by other competencies, even as it interacts and interweaves with the formal codes, networks, and sociocultural norms of professionalism.
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