What Is Global Contemporary Art?


The Redwood’s Contemporary Curator, Leora Maltz-Leca, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at RISD, will present an in-depth analysis into the history of global contemporary art. When does contemporary art begin? What is its relationship to modern art? And to the post-modern? And the anti-modern...? How do we chart a history of the art of the present, and what are the challenges of our proximity? This lecture series maps the broad landscape of contemporary global art, both drawing out its continuities with what came before, and articulating the splits that separate contemporary art from its predecessors. Q & A to follow.


Flashbacks to Modernism, or Where Does Contemporary Art Come From and Where is it Going?

Explore the general shape and time of contemporary art, charting its continuities and breaks with modernism. We rewind to several key moments in the history of modern art to home in on two core impulses – expressionism and abstraction – both of which have long defined non-Western art. Then we jump from Paris to New York to observe how these practices unite in the form of Abstract Expressionism, and in the figure of Jackson Pollock. Finally, we fast forward to the present for a brief look at the current stakes of expressionism and abstraction as they continue to structure current painting.

Mapping the Spaces of Global Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is a global phenomenon, and its geographic spread complicates the historical axis upon which art has traditionally been plotted. If modernism inaugurated the white cube space of the museum, contemporary art increasingly shuns such confines for the peripatetic and ephemeral sites of the global art fair, the biennale, and the site-specific intervention. This lecture travels along the routes and through the spaces of contemporary art, exploring how artists in the past two decades have mapped their position as both the subjects and the agents of globalization. 

Keeping Time, or Refusing It: Contemporary Art & the Politics of Time

Explore the idea of time in contemporary art: how artists test it, tell it, stretch it and rewind it. It looks at the temporary in the notion of the contemporary, and ponders the time of forgetting; the time of waiting. The talk primarily addresses two contemporary art installations, Sarah Sze’s Time Keeper (2016) and William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time (2012) to assess how the politics and histories of time shape these monumental artworks. 


The Lecturer

Leora Maltz-Leca currently serves as Associate Professor of Art History at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she specializes in global contemporary art, and chairs the department of History of Art and Visual Culture.  She has written extensively on artists such as William Kentridge, Marlene Dumas, Robin Rhode, Pascale Marthine Tayou, David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng, Guy Tillim, Malick Sidibe and Paul Stopforth for publications such as Artforum, Frieze, Art Bulletin and African Arts. Her first book William Kentridge: Process as Metaphor & Other Doubtful Enterprises, which was awarded a 2016 CAA Millard Mess publication award, a 2011 Creative Capital/ Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writer's Grant, a 2011/2012 Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2010 Library of Congress Swann fellowship will be published by University of California Press this year; her second book, Material Politics: On Matter and Meaning In and Out of the Postcolonies continues her meditations on studio processes and materials. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University.

The summer lecture series is generously sponsored by Marianne Wolfensberger-Jarzombek.