James Meyer with Catharina Manchanda
In The Art of Return: The Sixties and Contemporary Culture (University of Chicago Press) James Meyer turns to art criticism, theory, memoir, and fiction to examine the fascination with the long sixties and contemporary expressions of these cultural memories across the globe. He draws on a diverse range of cultural objects that reimagine this revolutionary era stretching from the 1950s to the 1970s, including reenactments of civil rights, antiwar, and feminist marches, paintings, sculptures, photographs, novels, and films. Many of these works were created by artists and writers born during the long Sixties who were driven to understand a monumental era that they missed. These cases show us that the past becomes significant only in relation to our present, and our remembered history never perfectly replicates time past. This, Meyer argues, is precisely what makes our contemporary attachment to the past so important: it provides us with a critical opportunity to examine our own relationship to history, memory, and nostalgia. James Meyer is a curator of Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He was previously the Winship Distinguished Research Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University and deputy director and chief curator of the Dia Art Foundation. He will appear in conversation with Catharina Manchanda, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum.