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Live Panel Discussion: David Joselit with Susan Buck-Morss, Michelle Kuo, and Courtney J. Martin

Paula Cooper Gallery and 192 Books invite you to join us for a live panel discussion of David Joselit's new book, Art's Properties (published by Princeton University Press, 2023). David will be in discussion with Susan Buck-Morss, Michelle Kuo, and Courtney J. Martin.


521 West 21st Street
Thursday, February 23
7:00-8:30 PM, Doors: 6:30 PM

The event will also be live streamed directly on PCG Studio at 7 PM ET. There is no login or rsvp required. A recording will be archived.


Books will be available to purchase at the gallery or 192 Books.


In this provocative new account, David Joselit shows how art from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries began to function as a commodity, while the qualities of the artist, nation, or period themselves became valuable properties. Joselit explores repatriation, explaining that this is not just a contemporary conflict between the Global South and Euro-American museums, noting that the Louvre, the first modern museum, was built on looted works and faced demands for restitution and repatriation early in its history. Joselit argues that the property values of white supremacy underlie the ideology of possessive individualism animating modern art, and he considers issues of identity and proprietary authorship.

Joselit redefines art’s politics, arguing that these pertain not to an artwork’s content or form but to the way it is “captured,” made to represent powerful interests—whether a nation, a government, or a celebrity artist collected by oligarchs. Artworks themselves are not political but occupy at once the here and now and an “elsewhere”—an alterity—that can’t ever be fully appropriated. The history of modern art, Joselit asserts, is the history of transforming this alterity into private property.

Narrating scenes from the emergence and capture of modern art—touching on a range of topics that include the Byzantine church, French copyright law, the 1900 Paris Exposition, W.E.B. Du Bois, the conceptual artist Adrian Piper, and the controversy over Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket—Joselit argues that the meaning of art is its infinite capacity to generate experience over time.


David Joselit is professor and chair of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of After Art (Princeton); Heritage and Debt: Art in Globalization, winner of the 2021 Robert Motherwell Book Award from the Dedalus Foundation; and other books.

Susan Buck-Morss is a core faculty member of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Committee on Globalization and Social Change. Her trans-disciplinary work in political theory emerges out of a constellation of historical material, visual images, and contemporary events. Her previous books include Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History, which won the Frantz Fanon Prize Book Prize in 2011, Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West, and The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project.

Dr. Michelle Kuo is the Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From 2010-17, she was the Editor in Chief of Artforum International. She is organizing the forthcoming exhibition Signals: How Video Transformed the World (with Stuart Comer), and is working on a book about the postwar organization Experiments in Art and Technology.

Courtney J. Martin is the Paul Mellon Director of the Yale Center for British Art. Previously she was the deputy director and chief curator of the Dia Art Foundation, taught at Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley and worked at the Ford Foundation. She received a doctorate from Yale University. She sits on the boards of the Chinati Foundation, the Center for Curatorial Leadership, Hauser and Wirth Institute and the Henry Moore Foundation.