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International celebration honors work of scholar, activist Douglas Crimp

August 26, 2014
Douglas Crimp in his office

Leading scholars, artists, and critics from around the world will gather at the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin, Aug. 28 – 30, to celebrate the work of Douglas Crimp, the University of Rochester’s Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History, who turned 70 this month.

Known for his work as an art critic, theorist, curator, and activist, Crimp has produced seminal work on the role of museums, postmodernism, modern dance, Andy Warhol, and the New York underground art scene of the 1960s. A persistent voice during the AIDS crisis, Crimp combined activism and scholarship to shed light on gay politics in the 1980s. His work was instrumental in the development of the field of queer studies.

“I know I’m not alone in saying that his writings on AIDS, sexuality, and cultural representation helped keep me alive during the extremely homophobic and racist period in the United States in the midst of the AIDS crisis,” wrote Marc Siegel, a professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt and one of the organizers of the upcoming symposium and series of events. “Whether as activist, editor, author, or participant, Crimp has played a key role in the construction, representation and interpretation of this history,” wrote Siegel.

Organized by Siegel, author and cultural critic Diedrich Diederichsen, and Juliane Rebentisch, professor of philosophy and aesthetics at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach College in Germany, Before and After Pictures: An Exhibition and Symposium for Douglas Crimp will showcase scholarship, film, and art that builds on Crimp’s vast body of work. All events relate to Crimp’s upcoming memoir, Before Pictures, which explores the events in his life in New York before the famed Pictures art show at Artists Space in 1977, which launched his international reputation as a curator and art theorist.

“Douglas is an irreplaceable anchor in the University’s graduate program in visual and cultural studies,” said Rachel Haidu, associate professor of art history and chair of the Department of Visual and Cultural Studies at Rochester. “His commitment to VCS and devotion to our students is remarkable — he will go to the mats to support them.” Haidu, who is presenting some of her own work at the conference in Berlin, is also planning a celebration on campus for Crimp later this year.

Crimp joined the faculty of the Visual and Cultural Studies Program and the Department of Art and Art History in 1992 and was appointed the Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History in 2003. He currently divides his time between Rochester and Manhattan.

The upcoming series of events include an exhibition at Galerie Buchholz titled, Pictures, Before and After, curated by Christopher Müller and Daniel Buchholz. For more information on the symposium, which is funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, visit

For additional information about Douglas Crimp and his upcoming memoir, Before Pictures, visit:

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Category: The Arts