Lucy Lippard On a Life In and Out of Art

Lippard's new book, 'Stuff: Instead of a Memoir' is available now.

Lucy Lippard. Photo by R.A. Shuff, courtesy of Tufts University, Boston.

Any short list of the most important art critics of the last decades would have to include Lucy R. Lippard. She would also be at the very top of Artnet’s art critic Ben Davis’s personal list of favorite writers about art. Lippard has written numerous important books, including Six Years: the Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1973, the book that defined what conceptual art was all about for many; as well as volumes like Mixed Blessings: New Art In a Multicultural America, The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Essays on Feminist Art; and The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society—each helping set the agenda for a different art historical moment.

But Lippard has also been much more than a writer. She curated “Eccentric Abstraction” in 1966, helping to define what would come to be called post-Minimalism in sculpture. Her experimental and traveling card shows helped create the audience for conceptual, minimal, and land art. She curated maybe the first museum show of Second Wave feminist art at the Aldrich Museum in 1971, and was a part of the founding mother-collective behind Heresies, a journal that shaped the field of feminist art history.

Radicalized by sixties activism, she participated in the Art Workers Coalition, a historic activist formation protesting against the Vietnam War and for equality in the museum world. She was part of many, many other collectives and activist groups thereafter, including the Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America in the early 1980s, a project she discussed with us on the Art Angle back in 2022. Now Lippard has written a new book called Stuff: Instead of a Memoir. It’s a short-packed tome that surveys an eventful life through photos that catalog the items Lippard finds around her in the home where she has lived since moving from New York to the small town of Galisteo in rural New Mexico in the early nineties. It’s a fitting way to tell the story of a writer who has thought so much about how images and words fit together, and how meaning emerges from place and community.

This week on the podcast, Ben Davis speaks once again to Lucy Lippard about a life in and out of art.

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