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Art critic, curator: ‘Art is a problem’

Joshua Decter thinks art is a problem.

The New York-based art curator and critic explained his philosophy – and upcoming book, “Art Is a Problem” – at the USF School of Music Barness Recital Hall.

But Decter said if art is a problem, then his book is not the solution.

Reading from his MacBook in front of 60 people, Decter discussed the details of his new book and how it examines contemporary art in relation to its various ideological, public, institutional, discursive, curatorial and social contexts through his writings and projects over the past 25 years.

Decter said he came up with the title in a way he was complaining about art – something that comes second nature to him.  

“For me, ‘Art Is a Problem’ as a title is also a bit of complaint,” Decter said. “I’m also complaining about art. My partner in New York always complains that I complain too much about things. So I thought why not have a bit of complaint as the title of my book. It’s emblematic of me to a certain extent.”

Throughout the 45-minute speech, Decter shared his opinions of why it could be a problem and showed a slideshow of exhibitions from the mid-’90s to the early 2000s.  

Decter said his inspiration of getting into the field of contemporary art came from Harold Rosenberg’s book “The De-Definition of Art: Action Art to Pop to Earthworks,” and uses his work in his book.

“It is within his criticism of the late 1960s and 1970s that we find a method to scrutinize the contradictions of art and the art world,” Decter said.

Decter also said he used the title of Rosenberg’s book as a chapter in his, changing it to “The Un-De-Definition of Art.” 

Then Decter shared that he had similarities with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s fundamental problems with art that it didn’t pose any problems, but he said he never maintained faith in that belief.

The book is set to release Oct. 31.