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BlogBack: A CultureGrrl Reader on Critic Douglas Crimp, Met Curator Douglas Eklund & “The Pictures Generation”

“We seem to be fighting similar battles,” wrote a CultureGrrl reader in response to “That Little Exhibition”: The Late Douglas Crimp on His Show that Anointed “The Pictures Generation”—my appreciation, posted Monday, of the critic/scholar, 74, whose pioneering work defined what became known as “The Pictures Generation.”

I had noted that the Metropolitan Museum’s press release for its 2009 “Pictures Generation” show (which I had reviewed here) had acknowledged its debt to “the landmark 1977 ‘Pictures’ exhibition at the not-for-profit New York venue Artists Space,” but had unaccountably failed to name the organizer of that show—an oversight that I criticized as “perhaps the institutional equivalent of ‘appropriation art,’ a signature strategy of the Pictures Generation.”

Douglas Crimp at the Met’s April 2009 press preview
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

My critique struck a chord with a reader, who had been similarly put off by the failure to properly credit Crimp in Wikipedia‘s “The Pictures Generation” entry.

Here’s what my follower wrote to me (reproduced here with his permission):

We seem to be fighting similar battles:

A while ago, I read the Wikipedia article entitled, “The Pictures Generation,” which was unclear as to whether it was about the Met show itself or the artists that Eklund had gathered [at the Met] under this rubric. It made scant reference to Douglas Crimp‘s role in the matter.

I wrote three new paragraphs to make the article more clearly about the Met show and to situate Crimp’s work as its basis. [He is now credited by name in the second sentence of that entry.]

I introduced myself to Douglas [Crimp] in the lobby of New York Live Arts before a show when I worked there. I worried that I was behaving like some kind of art-history groupie, but we had a perfectly nice conversation.

Then, oddly, we began to see each other regularly at dance performances around the city, often landing within a few seats of one another. If we were both alone, we would generally walk out of the theater together and he would share some insight or historical information that deepened my sense of the dance.

It was a minor but rich connection that I just want to tell someone about while he’s on all our minds. [Italicized words above are mine, not Rob’s.]

This not only sets the record straight on Crimp’s contribution (and gives further evidence of how generous he was with his insights), but also illustrates (in case we needed reminding) the shortcomings of crowdsourced reference sources like Wikipedia.

In another tribute, the New Yorker has just posted online Masha Gessen‘s appreciation of another of Crimp’s pioneering contributions—his provocative essays championing AIDS activism.

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