“Institutional thinking tells us to look very, very carefully before leaping—and such thinking virtually guarantees that we’ll never leap at all. As an antidote to this, my motto has been “Act first, think later – that way you might have something to think about.” (174)
In 1969, the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City hired Marcia Tucker, as their first ever woman curator. Shortly after organizing an exhibition for the post-minimalist artist Richard Tuttle, the Whitney decided to terminate her after receiving dissatisfied reviews regarding the show’s conceptually perplexing style. A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York City Art World, edited by Liza Lou, focuses on Marcia Tucker’s persistent desire to challenge the traditional norms and role of the institution through her radical approach to exhibition-making. Her memoir is adorned with personal details of the curator’s private life while simultaneously providing an insightful perspective behind Marcia Tucker’s decision to open the New Museum of Contemporary Art shortly after being fired from the Whitney.
Recommended for any individual interested in curatorial practices, museum and institutional policies, or to simply learn more about the founder of the New Museum, and her relentless desire to push the boundaries of the New York City art world.
Just around the corner from UArts, at 1314 Locust Street (between Broad and 13th), is a Philadelphia treasure, the Library Company of Philadelphia. A feature article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer highlights the Library Company’s outstanding collection of African American history.
Originally a private membership library founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is now free and open to the public and runs exhibitions and other public events. Check out their collections, and browse through ImPAC, their digital collections catalog.
Right next door to the Library Company is another outstanding research facility, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. If you’re ever doing research on Philadelphia, find out what these stellar libraries may have to offer.
UArts alumni (1969) and identical twins Timothy and Stephen Quay were featured on last week’s cover of City Paper, but it was the quote inside that caught this librarian’s eye:
“The thing that we liked instantly was that the college had a fantastic library and music library and a fantastic film course. We suddenly dove into a period of hunting and researching and learning things that we wouldn’t have had access to in high school. And you’d see a lot of other artists at work. It was really a hothouse — a humbling experience in the best sense of the word.”
The library is of course what was then the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) library, and the music library they mention is that of the Philadelphia Musical Academy, with whom PCA had reciprocal library access. The Philadelphia Musical Academy is today’s UArts School of Music, and PCA is the UArts College of Art and Design. The libraries are now the UArts Greenfield Library and UArts Music Library.
The film course they mention was probably taught by the late David Grossman, a local legend known for his repertory film screenings. Grossman is listed as teaching a Liberal Arts department film course in the 1967-69 PCA catalog.
What’s so great about the Quay Brothers? A September 7, 1999 Village Voice article says “To call the Quays’ work the most original and rapturously vivid image-making on the planet might sound like hyperbole until you see the films, which have no genuine precedent (the films of their forerunners, from Ladislaw Starewicz to Jan Svankmajer, are charmingly crude by comparison) and can redefine your ideas of cinematic space and causality.”
Find out for yourself by watching some Quay Brothers DVDs, available in the UArts Greenfield Library. Search the library catalog by author for Brothers Quay, which is how they used to prefer to be known.