James Meyer - "The Art of Return" - Bill Ayers

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
James Meyer

“Meyer is a critic and art historian of extraordinary rigor and insight, and there are few who are better equipped to write on the ‘long’ Sixties. The Art of Return is a striking and generous reflection on that moment’s effect as reimagined by artists, writers, filmmakers, and art historians. Meyer is to be especially commended for his capacious analyses of histories too often marginalized in art-historical treatments of the long Sixties and the connections he draws in taking a more global view of art history.”Pamela Lee

A discussion with James Meyer, author of The Art of Return: The Sixties and Contemporary Culture. He will be joined in conversation by Bill Ayers. A Q&A and signing will following the discussion.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: More than any other decade, the Sixties captures our collective cultural imagination. And while many Americans can immediately imagine the sound of Martin Luther King Jr. declaring “I have a dream!” or envision hippies placing flowers in gun barrels, the revolutionary Sixties resonates around the world: China’s communist government inaugurated a new cultural era, African nations won independence from colonial rule, and students across Europe took to the streets, calling for an end to capitalism, imperialism, and the Vietnam War.

In this innovative work, James Meyer turns to art criticism, theory, memoir, and fiction to examine the fascination with the long Sixties and contemporary expressions of these cultural memories across the globe. Meyer draws on a diverse range of cultural objects that reimagine this revolutionary era stretching from the 1950s to the 1970s, including reenactments of civil rights, antiwar, and feminist marches, paintings, sculptures, photographs, novels, and films. Many of these works were created by artists and writers born during the long Sixties who are driven to understand a monumental era that they missed. These cases show us that the past becomes significant only in relation to our present, and our remembered history never perfectly replicates time past. This, Meyer argues, is precisely what makes our contemporary attachment to the past so important: it provides us a critical opportunity to examine our own relationship to history, memory, and nostalgia.

About the author: James Meyer is curator in the Department of Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He was previously the Winship Distinguished Research Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University and deputy director and chief curator of Dia Art Foundation.

About the interlocutor: Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired) at the University of Illinois at Chicago has written extensively about social justice and education. His books include Teaching toward FreedomFugitive Days, Public Enemy, and Demand the Impossible!


Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637