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Our Cherished Moments of Involuntary Realism: Charles Harrison, Modernism, and Art Writing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stephen Moonie



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


In May 1969, Charles Harrison reviewed Morris Louis’ exhibition at the Waddington Galleries in London. Months later, he helped to install the exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Harrison also wrote the catalogue text, published in Studio International. Those two texts marked a significant point in Harrison’s career. They were indicative of his disillusionment with modernist criticism, and of his burgeoning interest in the work of post-minimal and conceptual art. In this respect, the two essays mark a transition from modernism to post-modernism in the space between a formalist analysis of the art object and a more dispersed field of artistic practice, where a changed relationship between art practice, criticism, and curating was taking place. However, in the 2000s, Harrison came to reflect upon this cardinal moment. Harrison referred to his recollected experiences of the late 1960s as a ‘cherished moment of involuntary realism’, opening up issues around art writing which remain pertinent to the practice of art history.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Moonie S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Arts

Year: 2022

Volume: 11

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 21/01/2022

Acceptance date: 17/01/2022

Date deposited: 21/01/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2076-0752

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/arts11010023


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