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PhD Research: The Artist’s Intent in Contemporary Art (Nina Quabeck)

Name Nina Quabeck

Title of research project / research interests The Artist’s Intent in Contemporary Art

Type of research PhD

Affiliation(s) University of Glasgow, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

Supervisor(s) Dr. Erma Hermens, Dr. Dominic Paterson

(Estimated) date of completion winter 2018

Previous education and/or work experience Conservator at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen since 2003

Abstract Collecting institutions are increasingly responsible for the care of highly complex contemporary artworks that are often co-produced, co-curated and co-conserved. Their preservation no longer hinges solely on the endurance of an original material, and as such, institutions are compelled to embrace the active life of these works. Because collection care must allow for significant changes to be made to recent works of art following artist sanctions, the ongoing dialogue with artists gains paramount importance. With many complex works, a mere handing over of the artwork from the studio will not suffice.  Institutions therefore depend on the artists’ ongoing involvement over time as ‘their charge as creator extends and expands into the realm of the steward’ (Sterrett 2009).

This thesis re-evaluates the notion of artist intent in contemporary art, taking into account the changing concepts of artistic practice, completion, and intent in flux. It investigates the roles of living artists vis-à-vis conservators, as artists are increasingly involved in their works’ reinstallation and conservation. How does our role change if artists take on the charge of co-custodian of their work? Finally, it examines how ‘artist intent in flux’ is shaping museum practice, and to what extent museum practice perhaps shapes artist intent.

Keywords Intent, artist participation, professional roles, negotiation, decision-making  

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