Andy Grundberg is uniquely positioned to tell the story of photography’s meteoric rise from the art world’s margins to its vital center, and to describe it from both an eyewitness perspective and one formed from studying and writing about the intersection of art and photography for more than 30 years. His new book, How Photography Became Contemporary Art: Inside an Artistic Revolution from Pop to the Digital Age offers a critical and often personal look at photography during the 1970s and 80s, though he begins his narrative in 1962, the year that Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol began to take photographs from mass media and silkscreen them onto canvas. Grundberg himself became part of the burgeoning photography scene when he moved to New York City in 1971. He wrote about the art world for a variety of publications before landing, in 1981, at the New York Times, where he was the photography critic until 1991.
Grundberg’s book discusses at length the work and significance of numerous photographers, many of whom he knew personally, including Robert Smithson, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Sandy Skoglund. He writes with elegance and authority about photography’s importance in the context of conceptual art, literature, postmodernism, feminism, photojournalism, fashion, the culture wars of the 1980s, and the digital revolution.
On Thursday, April 1 at 6pm (EDT), the eve of the book’s publication, 192 Books and Paula Cooper Gallery in Manhattan will host a live virtual launch event featuring the author in conversation with writer and critic Blake Gopnik.