TCU Magazine: Elizabeth Theban’s Thesis Focuses On How “The Fox” Changed Art Criticism


A short-lived ’70s journal that used Marxist ideology had a significant influence on the art world.

Capitalism and art have always been strange bedfellows. But the uneasy relationship between creativity and profit hadn’t been examined in depth until the counterculture started dissecting Western norms in the 1960s.

Elizabeth Theban ’20 MA. Illustration by Matthew Cook.

Elizabeth Theban ’20 MA zeroed in on when the philosophical scrutiny first appeared in the U.S. art world. The subject of her thesis is a three-issue publication, The Fox. Compiled by a collective of 1970s Big Apple artists known as Art & Language New York, the journal opened new possibilities for how artists critique their industry.

The editors expanded on a fundamental redefinition of art that started with French painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp. His conundrum — is art an idea or a commodity? — filtered through the 1960s into a United Kingdom group known as Art and Language. Venturing into a territory of expression known as conceptual art, the British group dissolved the barriers between words and pictures.

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