Brian T. Leahy F'19

Brian T. Leahy
Doctoral Candidate
Art History
Northwestern University
last updated: 8/19/2019

Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art 2019
Doctoral Candidate
Art History
Northwestern University
For Immediate Release: Public Relations and Contemporary Art in the United States, 1967–1990

This project examines the historical connections between corporate public relations (PR) and contemporary art and art institutions in the United States during and after conceptualism. It argues that the art world increasingly employed the tactics, principles, and media of PR between 1967 and 1990 to imagine—and produce—publics for contemporary art. By analyzing these PR practices in the context of period discourses on public art and the developing theoretical framework of postmodernism, this dissertation demonstrates that a careful attention to conflicting ideas and practices of “the public” yields new insights about the relationships between seemingly disparate threads of art-making. Throughout, artists’ works are foregrounded to better understand the challenges and opportunities this shifting media and institutional landscape presented for US-American artists working in these years.