UCCA Beijing

UCCA Master Class Lecture Series
Molly Nesbit: The Pragmatism in the History of Art

2019.9.23 - 2019.9.25

Location:  Auditorium
Language:  English with Chinese translation

In the fall of 2019, the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art will open the first phase of the The Forth Wall Academy Series Seminar. We are honored to invite Professor of Art at Vassar College, Contributing Editor of the Art Forum magazine, and Art Historian Molly Nesbitt to bring the The Pragmatism in the History of Art seminar. The seminar will be divided into two sessions and will be held on September 23th and September 25th. The topics are:


Marcel Duchamp Underground

Gordon Matta-Clark at Days End

In this symposium, two of the most important and most rebellious artists in modern art history were selected as research case studies. In two lectures, Professor Nesbit will provide us with materials, tools and examples through careful deduction and show us how to open up art history to real experience. More importantly, this seminar will also present a critical and political question: What would it mean for the work of art now to break open, to reinstall the long view forward and, at the same time, nonformally, empirically, ground it?


Marcel Duchamp Undergraound
9.23 (Mon.) 14:00-16:00
English with Chinese translation

Gordon Matta-Clark at Day's End
9.25 (Wed.) 14:00-16:00
English with Chinese translation


Molly Nesbit (Professor of Art History)

Molly Nesbit is Professor of Art History on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair at Vassar College and a contributing editor of Artforum. Since 2002, together with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija, she has curated Utopia Station, a collective and ongoing book, exhibition, seminar, website and street project (in Poughkeepsie, Frankfurt, Venice, Munich, Porto Alegre, and, next, Buenos Aires).

She has received many awards for her work, notably from the Guggenheim Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. In 2008 she gave the J. Kirk T. Varnedoe Memorial lectures at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her books include Atget: Seven Albums (Yale University Press, 1992) and Their Common Sense (Black Dog, 2000). The Pragmatism in the History of Art (Periscope, 2013) is the first volume of “Pre-Occupations,” a series collecting her essays; the second, Midnight: The Tempest Essays, was published in 2017 by Inventory Press.


About The Pragmatism in the History of Art

Pragmatism is above all a way of working, it starts from the present. The Pragmatism in the History of Art  traces the questions that modern art history has used to make sense of the changes overtaking both art and life. A genealogy emerges naturally, elliptically. Several generations cross back and forth over the Atlantic. The questions combine with case studies as a story unfolds: the work of Meyer Schapiro, Henri Focillon, Alexander Dorner, George Kubler, Robert Herbert, T. J. Clark and Linda Nochlin is scrutinized; the philosophy of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze and the films of Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard show distinctly pragmatic effects; artists discussed include Vincent Van Gogh, Isamu Noguchi, Lawrence Weiner and Gordon Matta-Clark. The relevance of this material for the art and art-writing of our own time becomes increasingly clear.

To learn more: please click on the Art Forum link below.



Further details on the content of the seminar and a reading list will be announced soon, please stay tuned.

To receive the reading materials, please send an email to info@ucca.org.cn with a subject line of "Molly Nesbit Reading Materials"

Molly Nesbit, The Pragmatism in the History of Art (New York: Periscope, 2013).

Meyer Schapiro, "On a Painting of Van Gogh," first published in View (October 1946), pp. 8-14.


Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault , "Entretien: Les Intellectuels  et  le pouvoir," L'Arc, no. 49 (1972), pp. 3-10. 
Translated into English as “Intellectuals and Power” by Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon in the collection of Foucault’s essays, Language, Counter-memory, Practice, edited by Donald Bouchard (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), pp. 205-217.

"Gordon Matta-Clark's Building Dissections:  interview with  Donald Wall," Arts Magazine (May 1976), pp. 474-479, reprinted in Gordon Matta-Clark: Works and Collected Writings, edited by Gloria Moure (Madrid: Reina Sofia, 2006), pp. 53-69.