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  • Atelier Rosal 74 East Cherry Street Rahway, NJ, 07065 United States (map)

Since its "invention" in the early 20th Century, no one has doubted the relevance and importance of abstract art, that is, at least not until now.  During the Age of Modernism, it was always clear what constituted the best abstraction:  It was the work that was pioneering, the art of the avant-garde that advanced art by taking it into new and unchartered territory.  

But with the rise of Post-Modernism, nothing was considered new ----- all art was to some extent just a recycling of the past.  So, how were we now to determine quality in abstract art?  This talk will look at the issues facing abstraction in 2018 and suggest ways of separating the wheat from the chaff, meaning the strongest abstract art from all the rest.

About Our Speaker: JOSEPH JACOBS

Joseph Jacobs is an independent art historian living and working in New York. For some 35 years he was a museum curator and director. His positions included Curator of American Art at the Newark Museum (1991-2003), Director of the Oklahoma City Art Museum (1989-1991), Curator of Modern Art at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida (1986-1989), and Director of the museum at Bucknell University. (1982-1986) He has taught art history at Brown University, Boston College, St. Lawrence University, and Bucknell University. From 2005-2007 he was CEO of the Chaim and Renee Gross Foundation, a single-artist foundation located in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and dedicated to promoting the life and work of the sculptor Chaim Gross., who was a seminal figure in the movement of American sculptors to work in wood in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mr. Jacobs has written numerous books and exhibition catalogues. Best known is Janson’s History of Art, The Western Tradition, which he co-authored, writing the section “The Modern World” (over a third of the book) for the 7th and 8th editions. This book is probably the single most famous art publication in the world, and it was a front page article (with lengthy quotes by Mr. Jacobs) in The New York Times when it was published. Mr. Jacobs has written studies on photography (This Is Not a Photograph, 25 Years of Large-Scale Photography) and folk, self-taught art, and outsider art (A World of Their Own: Twentieth-Century American Folk Art). A well-known expert on modern and contemporary art, he is now preparing a book on art since 1950, which is tentatively titled Art Since 1950, The Road to Postmodernism. He has written for many major art magazines, including Art in America, Art & Antiques, and Arts. 

Mr. Jacobs’s exhibitions have won international awards, including “Best Exhibition at a Museum Outside of New York,” 1999, presented by the International Association of Art Critics for Off Limits, Rutgers University and the Avant-Garde, 1957-1963. (an exhibition featuring George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Roy Lichtenstein, Lucas Samaras, George Segal, and Robert Whitman). His 2001 reinstallation of the Newark Museum’s permanent collection of American Art (which ranks among the top ten collections in the world) was promoted by the National Endowment for the Humanities as a model for all museum exhibitions. 

As a leading art expert on 19th-century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, Mr. Jacobs has served on the vetting committee for most major art fairs in America, including the International Fine Art Fair in New York, the Palm Beach Art & Antique Fair, and the Dallas Art Fair. He has served on numerous public art commissions, commissioning work by some of the most famous artists in the world, and on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts , the Florida State Arts Council, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In addition to buying for museums and putting together major museum collections for over 35 years, Mr. Jacobs has advised collectors and worked as a professional art appraiser.