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The Fifty-Second A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock, Part 5: Satire, Irony, and Abstract Art

Kirk Varnedoe, Institute for Advanced Study. This six-part series examines abstract art over a period of fifty years, beginning with a crucial juncture in modern art in the mid-1950s, and builds a compelling argument for a history and evaluation of late twentieth-century art that challenges the distinctions between abstraction and representation, modernism and postmodernism, minimalism and pop. The accompanying publication, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock, is available for purchase from the Gallery Shops. In this fifth lecture, originally delivered at the National Gallery of Art on May 4, 2003, the distinguished art historian Kirk Varnedoe explores the 1980s, when Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenburg, and others confronted the ironic relationship between abstraction and the representation of man-made objects, thus producing a politicized critique of abstraction. Varnedoe concludes by looking at artists including Gerhard Richter and Cy Twombly, whose varied approaches shifted abstract art from its position as the ultimate modern art to one of many options.