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Douglas Crimp and Claudia La Rocco on "Before Pictures"

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Art historian and critic Douglas Crimp discusses his new memoir, Before Pictures, with writer Claudia La Rocco.

Douglas Crimp is the rare art critic whose work profoundly influenced a generation of artists. He is best known for his work with the “Pictures Generation.” But while his influence is widely recognized, we know little about Crimp’s own formative experiences. Before Pictures tells the story of Crimp’s life as a young gay man and art critic in New York City from the late 1960s through the ’70s. The details of his professional and personal life are interwoven with the particularly rich history of New York City, producing a vivid portrait of both the critic and his adopted city. At the same time, it offers a deeply personal and engaging point of entry into important issues in contemporary art. In Crimp’s words: “Through the book, I weave together stories of the two cultures that were most important in my life at the time—gay liberation and the art that came to be called post-modernist.”

Douglas Crimp is an art critic and the Fanny Knapp Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Pictures, AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, On the Museum’s Ruins, and “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol. He was the curator of the landmark Pictures exhibition at Artists Space in 1977.

Claudia La Rocco is a writer whose work frequently revolves around interdisciplinary projects and collaborations. She is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited), selected poetry, performance texts, images and criticism, and the novel Petit Cadeau, which was published by The Chocolate Factory Theater as a print edition of one and a four-day, interdisciplinary live edition. She edited I Don’t Poem: An Anthology of Painters (Off the Park Press) and Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Streets, the catalogue for Danspace Projectʼs Platform 2015, which she curated. She has been presented by The Walker Art Center, The Kitchen, The Whitney Museum of American Art, et al., and is also the first writer-in-residence at On the Boards theater in Seattle. A columnist for Artforum and a contributing editor to Emergency Index (Ugly Duckling Presse), she recently became editor-in-chief of the SFMOMA publication Open Space. She has received grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation.