Lynne Cooke and Alison Gingeras: A Conversation

A person dressed in a cobra mask with the words Cobra and Its Legacy on the left, and an oil painting by Horace Pippin showing the interior of a home with multicolored rugs, a wood stove, and two children

Lynne Cooke is senior curator, special projects in modern art, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Prior to her current role, Cooke served as Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the National Gallery's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Cooke has previously served as deputy director and chief curator at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008–12); curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York City (1991–2008); artistic director, 10th Biennale of Sydney (1994–96); cocurator, 1991 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; and lecturer, history of art, University College, London University. Cooke has received many awards and is widely published. In 2013 she wrote essays for the exhibition catalogs Matt Mullican: Subject Element Sign Frame World (Skira/Rizzoli, 2013) and Orthodoxies Undermined, Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2013). She has also authored or written for other exhibition catalogs about the work of such artists as Allghiero Boetti, James Castle, James Coleman, Willem de Kooning, Ann Hamilton, William Kentridge, Agnes Martin, and Richard Serra.

Alison M. Gingeras is a curator and writer based in New York City and Warsaw. Her curatorial history spans from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Palazzo Grassi, Venice; to Oko, an East Village storefront curatorial space in New York City. Notable museum exhibitions include Dear Painter, Paint me: Painting in the Figure Since Late Picabia (2003) and Daniel Buren Le Musee qui n'existait pas (2002), both for Centre Pompidou; and Pop Life (2010) at Tate Modern. Her most recent exhibitions include Oscar Wilde Temple by McDermott and McGough, a public artwork at the Church of the Village on West 13th Street in New York City's West Village; and I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going — A Radical Retrospective at Frieze London. Her critical writing regularly appears in such periodicals as Artforum, Tate, Etc, Spike, and Mousse. Since 1996, she has authored scores of essays for artist monographs, critical theory compendiums, and exhibition catalogs.


Lynne Cooke and Alison Gingeras are both renowned scholars, writers, and curators who have each spent the better part of the past five years working on projects of deep personal interest: Lynne Cooke's exhibition, Outliers and American Vanguard Art, which opened January 28, 2018 at the National Gallery, in Washington, DC; and Alison Gingeras's book-in-progress, Sex Work: Feminist Art and Radical Politics. Each of these projects is both a labor of love and has the power to upset long-standing assumptions and paradigms. This conversation was conceived of and organized by AAP NYC visiting critic and independent curator Linda Norden as part of her spring 2018 class New York City Professional Practice.

In the exhibition Outliers and American Vanguard Art, Cooke curates more than 250 works to explore three distinct periods in American history when mainstream and outlier artists intersected, ushering in new paradigms based on inclusion, integration, and assimilation. On view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, from January 28 through May 13, the exhibition aligns work by such diverse artists as Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, and Matt Mullican with both historic folk art and works by self-taught artists ranging from Horace Pippin to Janet Sobel and Joseph Yoakum. It also examines a recent influx of radically expressive work made on the margins that redefined the boundaries of the mainstream art world and challenged the very categories of "outsider" and "self-taught." Historicizing the shifting identity and role of this distinctly American version of modernism's "other," the exhibition probes assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture.

Sex Work: Feminist Art and Radical Politics began as a curatorial project, a section of the 2017 London Frieze Art Fair organized by Gingeras. The project featured nine solo presentations of women artists working at the extreme edges of feminist practice during the 1970s and 80s, all sharing a focus on explicit sexual iconography combined with radical political agency. Since then, Gingeras has undertaken a book addressing the lives as well as work of these nine artists — a book that Linda Norden thinks of as a radical feminist Vasari, for the late 20th into 21st century.

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