Notes on SINCE ’45 by Katy Seigel:


Instead of writing a proper review, I thought I’d list some of the notes, questions and quotations from the book I kept track of as I read. Some of it may come off as confused and confusing, but I think it gives you an idea of the scope of issues raised in this book, which is a must-read! 

The book begins with a discussion which reminded me of the French movie Amelie and how she lives upstairs from a painter in Monmarte. I remember thinking how difficult it must be to be a French painter, with all that history. Much easier and freer to be an American artist. Seigel discusses this idea of making art without the burden of history in this book.

Questions for Katy Seigel If I could ask her: 

How would you categorize the difference in the experience of artists between the ending of the first and second world wars?  In the former case, they had sometimes experienced the war and in the latter had witnessed (through photos) the dropping of the atomic bomb, which was so distant.

Also, the second world war resulted in  victory for the West yet, there seemed to be a flip-side to all that violence, this incredibly long stretch of peace time  in Europe and the United States, albeit with the nuclear threat. So is the mindset one of a very abstract, removed menace?

Do you think the ideas about contemporary art you discuss are increasingly taught in schools? Because I feel like I was taught the European version of the Avant Garde in an American art school.

If you were to write a book ‘since ’01, what might be some similar/opposing themes to the ones in this book?

You say on page 44, that the ‘American version of the modern’ is without a predetermined direction or end. Do earlier framings of art history anticipate this?

SPACE: what does it mean to be an American in New York, where there is no space? It’s a huge city, but no space!

P64 so when you talk about black and white there seems to be this link between black as a political move reflecting grime/poverty and also a reflection of fashion? Such an interesting combination of high and low, immediately.

Other thoughts:

I went to an international school in Denmark when I was a kid and one of my friends who was half Chilean/half Italian said, ‘I feel sorry for you because there are no old buildings in your country.’ 

Cady Noland, and this idea of ruin..but having lived overseas as well as the suburbs, one built after 69, I never really saw ruin except overseas or in American cities.

Again, struck by black and white discussion and how it has to be considered immediately in like 6 or more  different contexts:

The bomb, death, clinical

Poverty, grunge 




The influence of photography




Lucy Lippard on page 79: Saying that photos in 80’s harkened back to the 50s  

Planned obsolescence p102

P125 ‘critics have described feminism and professionalism as emasculating, feminizing, based on conformity and consumption, on pleasing others rather than asserting oneself.’

P156 discussion of copies

P158 Kaprow: ‘Middle-class money, both public and private, should be spent on middle class art, not on fantasies of good taste and noble sentiment.’

P161 talk of Koons stainless steel sculps, high/low leaving out middle class taste?

P164 ‘Self-repetition, anonymity, role-playing, constant style shifting, and collectivity are among the the artistic strategies for dealing with the same basic situation, the sheer # of artists and the threat that situation poses to the idea of the artist as a special person.’

-Gina Beavers

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