A Forest of Signs documents a major exhibition of critical art in the last decade, one that marks a change in the art world, perhaps even in the broader culture. The thread of representation ties together the work of the 30 artists included in the book, encompassing such issues as allegory, appropriation, and commodification, the role of the artist, and the functions of authorship and originality in vesting meaning in art. Much of the work is provocative, challenging the way we look at art, the way we talk about it, where we see it, and how we buy it.The development of these issues and their role in shifting the focus of much recent art from insistence on the art as object, to a host of representations is addressed in four essays and a section of "artists' pages." In the first essay, exhibition co-organizer Ann Goldstein discusses the individual artists and points to key issues and methods in their art. The artists themselves are represented by a 60 page portfolio of their works. Designed by the artists, these pages include personal statements, the remarks of others, works made specifically for the book and works using the tools of mechanical reproduction.In the three essays that follow, Anne Rorimer, former Curator of 20th Century Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, traces the roots of recent American art to the development of international conceptualism in the 1960s and early 1970s; Mary Jane Jacob, exhibition co-organizer and MOCA Chief Curator, places the artists within the current trends of European as well as American art; and editor and critic Howard Singerman examines the relationship of recent art to its circle of critics and to the emergence of critical theory. Copublished with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The Artists: Richard Baim, Thomas Lawson, Judith Barry, Sherrie Levine, Ericka Beckman, Robert Longo, Gretchen Bender, Allan McCollum, Dara Birnbaum, Matt Mullican, Barbara Bloom, Peter Nagy, Troy Brauntuch, Stephen Prina, Sarah Charlesworth, Richard Prince, Jack Goldstein, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Simmons, Larry Johnson, Haim Steinbach, Ronald Jones, Mitchell Syrop, Mike Kelley, James Welling, Jeff Koons, Christopher Williams, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler