History of Art and Architecture

World Art Now, The Provincialism Problem Then: 40 years of contemporary art

In September 1974, the New York magazine Artforum published Terry Smith’s article The Provincialism Problem. Among the first to question the concentration of modernist values in artworlds in cities such as New York, Paris, and London. The essay was immediately pirated in Brazil and South Africa, has been constantly reprinted, and continues to be frequently referred to by artists, critics, theorists and historians around the world, making it one of the most cited texts by an Australian writer on art.

In this lecture, Terry Smith will describe the circumstances of writing this article, and trace responses to it (including his own changes of mind) up to the present day. He will consider how the problems and possibilities identified in the 1970s have fared since then, and how world pictures changed during the shift from late modern to contemporary art. Presented in conjunction with Discipline-Gertrude Contemporary.

Cost Free, RSVP with ‘SMITH’ in the subject line to public.programs@ngv.vic.gov.au