Monash celebrates art critic Paul Taylor

The work of trailblazing art critic and curator Paul Taylor has inspired a symposium presented by Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) in association with the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies.

Impresario: Paul Taylor | Art & Text | Popism marks 30 years since the landmark exhibition POPISM, which Taylor, a Monash alumnus, curated at the National Gallery of Victoria. The show brought a new generation of avant-garde artists, including Howard Arkley, Juan Davila, Robert Rooney, Jenny Watson, Imants Tillers and Maria Kozic, to the attention of the general public.

Taylor died in 1992; his legacy is perhaps best seen through Art & Text, the influential journal he founded in 1981.

Associate Professor Adrian Martin of the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies said Paul Taylor revolutionised the way we write, perform, publish and live art criticism in Australia.

“He fused the most dynamic, new intellectual ideas with the most stylish forms of subcultural rebellion,” Associate Professor Martin said.

Associate Professor Martin and Monash Research Fellow Dr Janine Burke have co-convened the symposium.

Speakers include artists, curators and critics who were colleagues of Taylor, as well as a younger generation his work has inspired. Artists Juan Davila, Lyndal Jones and Philip Brophy will participate, alongside Patrick McCaughey (former director of the NGV) and Rex Butler (author of What is Appropriation? and A Secret History of Australian Art).

In 1984 Taylor left Melbourne for New York, where he wrote for The New York TimesVanity Fair, Parkettand The Village Voice, and curated Impresario: Malcolm McLaren and the British New Wave at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. He famously conducted the last interview with Andy Warhol.

Director of MUMA, Max Delany said Taylor was a charismatic figure, and his work remains relevant to artists and critics.

“The history of exhibitions, publications and curatorial practice in Australia is a fledging area of academic and professional focus. It is timely to consider Paul’s work as a pioneering figure in the recent history of critical and curatorial practice,” Mr Delany said.

Dr Burke recalls Taylor as a writer, editor and curator of exceptional flair and generosity.

“Taylor was unabashedly ambitious for Australian art. His vision of Australian culture as unique, vigorous and utterly relevant remains inspiring,” Dr Burke said.

Monash University Publishing will publish the symposium proceedings as a book in 2013.

‘Impresario: Paul Taylor | Art & Text | Popism’ will be held from 9.30am-5.30pm on Saturday, 1 September 2012 at MUMA, lecture theatre G1.04, Monash University, Caulfield campus. This symposium cost $10 to attend (includes lunch and refreshments) and visitors must register online via the MUMA website.

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