Art & Otherness : Crisis in Cultural Identity
Paperback, 192 page, 5.5 x 8.5", 1995, 0-929701-48-8
Art and Discontent (see here) ended with an appeal for non-Eurocentric approaches to cultural history. This volume brilliantly elaborates that idea, beginning with the author's famous controversy with the Museum of Modern Art over its 1984 exhibition, `Primitivism in 20th Century Art.` This essay inaugurated a host of multicultural issues which dominated much art discourse through the 1990s and seems likely to remain in the foreground for some years to come. The concept of a global art history was progressively articulated in later writings which are collected here, including the keynote statement of the exhibition, `Les Magiciens de la Terre`; various writings concerning the way contemporary art entering the West from China, India, and Africa is welcomed or dismissed; and McEvilley's more recent analysis of alternative models of art history. Even when dealing with complex or paradoxical situations, McEvilley's prose is clear, inviting, and compelling.
"In 10 invigorating essays... he assails formalist modernism as a moribund project and seeks ways of relating to the culturally "other" free of Eurocentric bias... [T]hese erudite essays reward and challenge with their overarching vision of a global artistic culture." — Publishers Weekly
"McEvilley builds his arguments so deliberately that only the most careful reader can challenge his points. ...McEvilley is a fine writer, and these books contribute powerfully to critical debates without closing them." — L.A. Reader
"The central point in Art & Otherness is that Modernism and formalism are deeply wrapped up with colonialism. Charting out a post-Modern, postcolonial world has become McEvilley's driving passion, but this does not mean he has lost interest in what individual artists are accomplishing... In the absence of a working time machine, those eager to know how scholars of tomorrow will see us could not do better than to read Art & Otherness." — Artforum International
"Even if one is not willing to accept Modernism as wholly toxic, or multiculturalism as entirely redemptive, we must regard Art & Otherness as an import contribution, both philosophically and historically, to the way in which we view the production and exhibition of visual objects." — American Book Review