Summer Session Course: “Art and Corporate Culture: From Fluxus to the Yes Men”

Instructor: Wylie Schwartz

Binghamton University Department of Art History

Distance Learning Summer Session Course July 10 – August 11, 2017

This course explores the relationship between contemporary art and corporate culture. We begin with the corporation itself, in its postwar incarnation, as we examine the ways corporations have mobilized art and design, as well as the artists and designers whose work helped shape these emerging fields. From here, we consider Conceptual art as operating in terms of what Benjamin Buchloh referred to as an “aesthetics of administration.”  We go on to examine several case studies of artists and artist groups whose artistic practices specifically intervened within the sphere of corporate culture, whether as a form of institutional critique, such as Hans Haacke’s critique of Mobil sponsorship at the Museum of Modern Art, or the protests against BP sponsorship of British cultural institutions, or, as a form of collaboration, as in the case of the Artist Placement Group (APG) in postwar England. From there, we pivot to what we might call the “postmodern” corporation and the age of digital technologies, questioning how the subversive impulses of Paris in ’68 became folded into a new corporate culture, exemplified in the tendency of advertising to appropriate contemporary art, such as the case of Honda’s “Cog” commercial mimicking Fischli and Weiss’s “Lauf der Dinge.” We go on to examine how artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons turned themselves into corporations — the “branded” artist as it were, as well as the Conceptual play with that conceit in groups like Readymades Belong to Everyone. The course will conclude with a closer look at artistic practices that attempt to subvert that impulse by the Yes Men and other activist groups.





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