cover van 'James Putnam | Art and artifact'

Art and artifact

The museum as medium 

From the early instances of the urge to collect objects, the "cabinet of curiosities", to assemblages of found objects and imitations of museum displays, artists have often turned their attention, both creatively and critically, to the ideas and systems traditionally embodied in the museum: display, archiving, classification, storage, curatorship. They have then appropriated, mimicked and reinterpreted these in their own work. Citing a range of examples, James Putnam shows not only the ways in which artists have been influenced by museum systems and made their works into simulations of the museum, but also how they have questioned the role of museums, observed their practices, intervened in them and helped to redefine them.

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