The Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) is offering an in-depth look into the complexities of the contemporary art world through a series of conversations and panel discussions featuring top players in today’s art scene. The DIA auxiliary group Friends of Modern & Contemporary Art (FMCA) is presenting the series, which begins Sept. 21 and runs through March 2015. The events are free.
Which Side Up: What Moves Contemporary Art? is organized as a “contemporary art world 101” primer and includes one talk per month—two evenings of casual conversations and five moderated panel discussions. The series was inspired by Sarah Thornton’s 2008 bestseller Seven Days in the Art World, which reveals the inner workings of the contemporary art world, including exploration of an auction, an art school “crit,” an art fair, an artist’s studio, an art prize, a magazine and a biennale.
Rebecca Hart, DIA associate curator of contemporary art, leads the first discussion on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. with an overview of the series and a description of each talk. Among the other speakers in the series are Michelle Grabner, co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial; Kevin Beasley, a featured artist in the 2014 Whitney Biennial; Sarah Turner, dean of the Cranbrook Academy of Art; author Sarah Thornton; Vince Carducci, art critic and dean of undergraduate studies at the College for Creative Studies; and Alex Rotter, head of Sotheby's New York contemporary art department.
Sunday, September 21: Unpacking the Concept, Kresge Court, 7 p.m. (Kresge Court open at 6 p.m.) Refreshments, Cash Bar and Conversation. Rebecca Hart, DIA curator of contemporary art, presents an informal introduction to Which Side Up? She focuses on Thornton’s book, how it inspired the series and then details the topics for each program. Members of Detroit’s art community join Hart to offer their personal stories, including an artist on getting a prize and a collector on the artwork that got away.