A companion to an exhibition inspired by the work of celebrated American painter and critic Manny Farber, this book explores Farber’s concept of “Termite Art,” an argument for the vital importance of art drawn from the everyday.
“Termite Art,” in Farber’s definition, is art born of observing and acknowledging the transitory nature of daily life. It is also a key antidote to the widespread problem of “White Elephant” art– big, swaggering “masterpiece art” self-consciously striving for greatness. In this book, artists, historians, and critics dive deep into art that forgoes such ambition in order to attend to the pleasures and problems of the everyday. The book is anchored by an essay by editor Helen Molesworth and features four contemporary commissioned artists’ projects that exemplify “Termite Art,” an interview with filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, and a carefully selected collection of historical essays by and about Farber that functions as a reader on the subject.