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On the Future of Art
Edited by Edward F. Fry with contributions by J. W. Burnham, Louis I. Kahn, Herbert Marcuse, Annette Michelson, James Seawright, B. F. Skinner, and Arnold J. Toynbee
Published in 1970
134 pages with 38 black and white illustrations
Softcover, 5 x 7.75 inches
In 1969, in response to a growing sense of urgency around critical issues pertaining to the role of art within society, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presented a lecture series on the subject of the future of art. This illustrated collection of seven essays, with an introduction by Associate Curator Edward F. Fry, came out of the series, which Fry also organized. Seeking “fresh insights beyond the normal limits of critical and art-historical discourse,” Fry invited individuals working in the fields of history, philosophy, psychology, and social theory, as well as an architect and a sculptor representing opposing poles of artistic practice, to participate, with the aim of situating art of the period and its pressing critical concerns in a broader intellectual and cultural context. By favoring “selected points of view” over “an exhaustive analysis,” On the Future of Art offers varied and sometimes radical perspectives as its contributors engage with aesthetics, cybernetics, futurology, the psychology of learning, and structuralism to envision art’s future. The collection includes the following essays: “Art: Communicative or Esoteric?” by historian Arnold J. Toynbee, “Architecture: Silence and Light” by architect Louis I. Kahn, “Art and the Structuralist Perspective” by art historian Annette Michelson, “Creating the Creative Artist” by psychologist B. F. Skinner, “Phenomenal Art: Form, Idea, and Technique” by artist James Seawright, “The Aesthetics of Intelligent Systems” by artist and theorist J. W. Burnham, and “Art as a Form of Reality” by philosopher Herbert Marcuse.
These selected points of view, while far from representing an exhaustive analysis of the situation of contemporary art, nevertheless pose many of the fundamental issues relevant to the problem of a future for art. It is a question that can be seen as part of an emerging concern of the culture as a whole with its own future, a tendency which has appeared rarely if ever before with its present intensity.