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Ekphrasis Today: A Conversation with Lucas Zwirner

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 7 - 9pm

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Lucas Zwirner. Photo by George Chinsee/WWD © Fairchild Publishing, LLC. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Lucas Zwirner. Photo by George Chinsee/WWD © Fairchild Publishing, LLC. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

A free, public conversation on the nature of writing about art with the editor of a new series of paperbacks published by David Zwirner Books.

At a moment when written content around artworks has become increasingly significant—for curators, collectors, gallerists, and artists themselves—the question of what makes a piece of ekphrastic writing good? remains especially difficult to answer. Whether for a press release, an essay, a story, or an article, potent descriptions of visual art are as important, and as challenging, as ever. Looking at a handful of contemporary and historical examples, we will explore what distinguishes the very best ekphrastic pieces of writing.

Lucas Zwirner oversees the creation of exhibition catalogues, artists’ books, monographs, and zines at David Zwirner Books. This season, the publishing house will launch a new paperback series, ekphrasis, organized by Zwirner. As a child, his time spent racing remote control cars with Jason Rhoades, and following around Raymond Pettibon with a pen and paper, became research for the books he would later publish on these artists. Zwirner studied philosophy and comparative literature at Yale before teaching at the Success Academy in Harlem, and he continues to work with young students through a literary program developed by David Zwirner Books with 826NYC.

The Intradisciplinary Seminar, sponsored by the The Cooper Union School of Art, presents a series of free, public lectures reflecting a broad range of contemporary art issues. Speakers include artists, writers, and thinkers currently engaged in a variety of practices. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary approaches, presenting new voices, international perspectives and scholarship across multiple fields. The series constitutes a lively forum for the exchange of ideas between practitioners, students, faculty and the public.

The Fall 2016 Intradisciplinary Seminar is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding support from the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.