Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Art History

Abstract

Institutional Critique is a term often applied to conceptual art of the late twentieth century, and a practice that grew in popularity among artists along with an organization of art workers called the Art Workers Coalition (AWC). The AWC was critical of the institution of art in the United States, and influenced conceptual artists to apply the same criticisms in their work. Hans Haacke utilized site specific critique of museums to expose systems within the museum, Mierle Laderman Ukeles used performance art to explore women’s labor and maintenance within the museum, and Fred Wilson used techniques of museology to present a new narrative within his work Mining The Museum (1991). Through analysis of these artists, their work, and their relationship to the Art Workers Coalition and the artworld, the important role of the museum and its critique becomes clear. Critiques of the institution both in artworks and through political action are vital to the future of museums, as they are the holders of common culture and history.

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