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The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978 (MIT Press) Hardcover – February 24, 2012

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Review

The Last Art College is an astonishing document. Without retreating into obscure theories of pedagogy, it demonstrates how a small college in a remote location in Canada rewrote the textbook on how to teach contemporary art in a college setting. Every art school -- and every art student -- in North America owes a debt to Garry Neill Kennedy for brilliantly turning the academic norms upside down. Page by page, we see the process by which the great minds and talents of a generation -- Lucy Lippard, Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Lawrence Weiner, and many more -- were brought into the center of the educational experience. Sadly, forty years later, there is nothing like it.

(AA Bronson, artist)

As so often in the history of avant-garde culture, lack (of opportunity to show and tell), need (for exchange, employment, and economic reproduction), and necessity (to access new artistic practices and representations) generated the by now mythical Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. In a remote region previously explored only by the likes of Arthur Cravan and Marsden Hartley, a core and visiting faculty of Canadians, Americans, Englishmen, and Europeans made NSCAD the laboratory of some of the most radical international art experiments of the sixties and seventies. Now NSCAD can be seen not only as the last art college, but as a first or formative chapter of many other histories. For example, the books, documents, and pamphlets that were produced at NSCAD Press, first under Kasper König's editorship and then my own, found, for a 'rather brief moment in time,' common causes, collective grounds, and public support. Now they appear -- with the condensation of hindsight -- as part of the saga of artistic affluence that constitutes the legend and legacy of NSCAD.

(Benjamin Buchloh, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Art at Harvard University and author of Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry)

Many people have been waiting for this wonderful, witty, surprising, and inspiring history of the 'Last Art College' put together by its former president, the conceptual artist Garry Kennedy. The intense activity of NSCAD from 1968 to 1978, the heyday of conceptual art, is here recounted through original writings of the time by people like Benjamin Buchloh, Charlotte Townsend, Peggy Gale, and David MacWilliam, documenting an extraordinary international space of freedom and intelligence. The book is part memory, part history, and will be a must-read for art historians and artists who want to understand a period when fearless experimentation was not only humorous but also connected to the transformation of everyday life. This adventure, beautifully laid out in the book, should be a model for a rethinking of our art schools after the 'Last Art College' and should ensure, as Garry Kennedy says, paraphrasing a well-known sentence used at NSCAD by John Baldessari, that 'we will not make any more boring art colleges.' The book has already succeeded in doing this.

(Serge Guilbaut, Professor of Art History and Theory, University of British Columbia)

In the end, The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978 becomes Kennedy's greatest work to date as a conceptual artist. He has found a way to make the college's vision and material production stand the test of time.

(The Architect's Newspaper)

About the Author

Garry Neill Kennedy is a Canadian conceptual artist who was awarded the Portia White Prize by the Arts Council of Nova Scotia in 2000 and a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2004. From 1967 to 1990 he was President of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st Printing edition (February 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262016907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262016902
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.5 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,486,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A surprise to see the little college in Nova Scotia support such a host of famous artists. My only problem was no one was doing any painting (old time) I guess there is non room anymore for "plain" painting. What a shame.
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