Lane Relyea’s thesis in his most recent book, Your Everyday Art World (MIT Press, 2013), is that the art world has developed beyond a formerly dominant system comprised of the studio, gallery, and museum—a system based on discrete objects and the transfer of ownership of those objects. A new system has been spreading steadily throughout the United States for decades; it includes cities such as Minneapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and beyond. Artists increasingly devote as much attention to organizing as to object-making; with little prospect of commercial sales, they survive by cobbling together crowd-sourced support and ad-libbing galleries and other occasions for colleagues to meet and stay informed, all to achieve the level of coherence necessary for internally reproducing professional status and recognition—that is, for running art worlds.
Relyea’s lecture at Midway Contemporary Art will address this new system of standardization—a system that dictates conformity in the production, distribution, and reception of not art objects but rather of artists themselves and the limits and expectations guiding their interaction. In short, a system centered on professionalism, social practice, and other techniques for training art subjects.
Relyea teaches in the Department of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University and is the editor-in-chief of Art Journal. He has written widely on contemporary art since 1983.
Copresented by Midway Contemporary Art, Univocal Publishing, and the Walker Art Center.