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Artistic authorship: the persistence of a myth

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Organization
Abstract
Any critical assessment of single-artist museums, both on a design level and on an institutional level, cannot avoid taking stock of the survival and the ‘operativity’ of the myth of the artist. The meaning of such projects as preserving an artist’s studio, or interpreting an artist’s legacy into an architectural museum design always relies at least in part on conceptions that are constitutive elements of the artists’ myth. Therefore, my dissertation which investigates how the interest in the person of the artist and the singularity of his or her artistic endeavor manifests itself in museum architecture - I call this ‘the monographic factor’ - opens with a chapter that critically presents and discusses this myth of the artist. I argue that to this day artistic authorship is highly mythologized, an argument I develop in three steps. The first consists of a descriptive and cross-historical mapping of the myth of the artist. It is an attempt to unfold both what Roland Barthes calls the phraseology of the myth in typical visual and textual representations such as the portraiture of artists in their studios or the life-and-work genre, and to detect the ideological concepts this mythologized phraseology carries along. The second step presents how critical theory since the 1960s has demystified artistic authorship: how Barthes’s and Foucault’s seminal critiques of the author, institutional theory, and other attacks on ‘strong authorship’ have eroded the theoretical presuppositions of the myth of the artist. Finally, the third section shows how the myth subsists in spite of this theoretical undermining. The artist appears to have died only in theory. For instance, the oeuvre-notion seems to be flourishing as one of the last of art history’s basic concepts still available to organize the mass of the past’s artistic production. Contemporary artists more and more recast the oeuvre-notion as a productive format, both to organize their oeuvre and to control its public presentation. Most probably the growth of monographic museums and transformed artists’ houses can be read as going against the current presentation and surveying strategies of art museums, and indicates that the myth of the artist is unavoidable.
Keywords
myth, author

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Liefooghe, Maarten. 2010. “Artistic Authorship: The Persistence of a Myth.” In Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint Doctoral Seminar, Reader.
APA
Liefooghe, M. (2010). Artistic authorship: the persistence of a myth. Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader. Presented at the 19th Joint doctoral seminar in Theory and History of Architecture.
Vancouver
1.
Liefooghe M. Artistic authorship: the persistence of a myth. Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader. 2010.
MLA
Liefooghe, Maarten. “Artistic Authorship: The Persistence of a Myth.” Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint Doctoral Seminar, Reader. 2010. Print.
@inproceedings{1096634,
  abstract     = {Any critical assessment of single-artist museums, both on a design level and on an institutional level, cannot avoid taking stock of the survival and the {\textquoteleft}operativity{\textquoteright} of the myth of the artist. The meaning of such projects as preserving an artist{\textquoteright}s studio, or interpreting an artist{\textquoteright}s legacy into an architectural museum design always relies at least in part on conceptions that are constitutive elements of the artists{\textquoteright} myth.
Therefore, my dissertation which investigates how the interest in the person of the artist and the singularity of his or her artistic endeavor manifests itself in museum architecture - I call this {\textquoteleft}the monographic factor{\textquoteright} - opens with a chapter that critically presents and discusses this myth of the artist.
I argue that to this day artistic authorship is highly mythologized, an argument I develop in three steps. The first consists of a descriptive and cross-historical mapping of the myth of the artist. It is an attempt to unfold both what Roland Barthes calls the phraseology of the myth in typical visual and textual representations such as the portraiture of artists in their studios or the life-and-work genre, and to detect the ideological concepts this mythologized phraseology carries along. The second step presents how critical theory since the 1960s has demystified artistic authorship: how Barthes{\textquoteright}s and Foucault{\textquoteright}s seminal critiques of the author, institutional theory, and other attacks on {\textquoteleft}strong authorship{\textquoteright} have eroded the theoretical presuppositions of the myth of the artist. Finally, the third section shows how the myth subsists in spite of this theoretical undermining. The artist appears to have died only in theory. For instance, the oeuvre-notion seems to be flourishing as one of the last of art history{\textquoteright}s basic concepts still available to organize the mass of the past{\textquoteright}s artistic production.
Contemporary artists more and more recast the oeuvre-notion as a productive format, both to organize their oeuvre and to control its public presentation. Most probably the growth of monographic museums and transformed artists{\textquoteright} houses can be read as going against the current presentation and surveying strategies of art museums, and indicates that the myth of the artist is unavoidable.},
  author       = {Liefooghe, Maarten},
  booktitle    = {Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader},
  keyword      = {myth,author},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Ghent, Belgium},
  pages        = {1},
  title        = {Artistic authorship: the persistence of a myth},
  url          = {http://www.architectuur.ugent.be/downloads/website/pdf/101215\_JDS19\_bundle.pdf},
  year         = {2010},
}