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Keywords Lecture Series

Keyword Lecture: Douglas Crimp on Theory

03 Apr 2013

Seminal art critic, curator, editor and activist Douglas Crimp unpacks the keyword Theory

  • Venue

    Gustave Tuck

  • Time


  • Admission

    £7 (£5 concession) + booking fee

Keyword Lecture: Douglas Crimp discusses Theory

“…from fw theoria, lL, theoria, Gk-contemplation, spectacle, mental conception (from theoros, Gk-spectator, rw thea, Gk-sight; cf. theatre)” – Raymond Williams, Keywords, 316

Seminal art critic, curator, editor and activist Douglas Crimp unpacks the keyword Theory, as part of the Keywords exhibition presented at Rivington Place from 27 March until 18 May 2013.

“Agon” is a chapter of Douglas Crimp’s memoir of New York in the 1970s, Before Pictures. It tells the story of his friendship with his fellow student and art critic Craig Owens. With Craig’s guidance, beginning in 1976, he discovered George Balanchine’s ballets, and together with Craig he read and attempted to apply poststructuralist theory (for example, in the catalogue for the Pictures exhibition).

Ballet and theory: now the two have been brought together in critical dance studies, while at the same time the art world has become infatuated with the world of dance. What has theory to do with dance? Why are art museums suddenly so eager to embrace it? Crimp won’t answer these questions directly, but he intends the story of his youthful embrace of ballet and theory to shed some light.


Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester, New York, and the author of On the Museum’s Ruins, 1993; Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, 2002; and “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol, 2012. Crimp was the curator of the Pictures exhibition at Artists Space in 1977 and an editor of October magazine from 1977 to 1990. With Lynne Cooke he organized the exhibition Mixed Use, Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices 1970s to the Present for the Reina Sofía in Madrid in the summer of 2010. He is currently at work on a memoir of New York in the 1970s called Before Pictures.

Book online

Book online here. If you have enquiries please call 0207 749 1240 or email bookings@iniva.org.

  1. For a concessionary rate (students, over 60s, unemployed) please enter the promotional code iniva_concession. For group bookings of more than 4 people please contact Rivington Place reception.